South Boston residents call for speeder crackdown

South Boston speeder protesters

Marchers demand safer streets in South Boston. Photo by Jim Gavaghan.

WBZ reports on last night's protest and community meeting, following the death of a toddler in a crash last month. Some residents called for cutting speed limits to 20 m.p.h.

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A Big Thank You

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....to all that organized, protested and attended the meeting.

South Boston is awful for pedestrians. Please keep the pressure up on the officials and don't let up.

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Physical Changes

Greater "enforcement" and lower speed limits can only do so much. To really achieve safer streets we need physical changes that make it difficult--if not impossible--to travel at high speeds through neighborhoods. These changes could include raised intersections and crosswalks, bump/bulb outs at intersections, chicanes, rougher surfaces, and narrow travel lanes.

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Do nothing politicians and

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Do nothing politicians and lazy drivers retort with "But what about emergency vehicles?? Raised intersections would slow them down!1!".

My retort to that retort is you will have much less need for ambulances, police cars and fire trucks to get somewhere if there were safer infrastructure and fewer drivers on the road. A huge percentage of the emergencies are caused by drivers and their cars. Crashes, cars on fire, drunk drivers. The list goes on and on. Pedestrians and cyclists don't cause those things. Only drivers do. Pedestrians don't clog up the street and slow down ambulances. Only drivers do. Design the city for people instead of cars and there will be far fewer emergencies and deaths.

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Got stats?

A huge percentage of the emergencies are caused by drivers and their cars.

Got any stats for that claim?
Or is this your usual bullshit?

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Strong Towns

Strong Towns has several memes that make that case.

I'm not sure how to embed photos, but one says: "A Tragic Irony: Our wide streets allow us to quickly respond to collisions caused by our wide streets"

See them all here: https://www.strongtowns.org/memes/

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What enforcement?

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Greater enforcement? How about zero enforcement. Why do the police keep getting a pass from enforcing traffic violations. Go to any other city in the country and you will see what enforcement is. Heck - go to Cape Cod - that's all you see is police pulling over speeders on Rte. 6.

I had drag racers on Pappas Way in Southie one Sunday afternoon - all afternoon!! Called BPD - Pappas is MassPort. Called MSP Troop F 3 times that day and a no show. Useless - all of them with traffic.

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Papas Way

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is a private way. You can do whatever you want in private property. Maybe you should have called the Pappas Police.

Raised intersections and crosswalks--a good solution:

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I don't think that narrow travel lanes, rougher surfaces, chicanes, or bump-bulbous at intersections are a good idea, because those can really do a number of one's car or bicycle, or motorcycle, but raised intersections and crosswalks seem like the best solution. Raised intersections and crosswalks will serve the same purpose (i. e. forcing drivers of motor vehicles to slow down when going through neighborhoods) without doing an absolute number on one's car or bicycle.

Ahem!

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or put a tollbooth at the Columbia road rotary

Regular tollbooths are being done away with all over the country, and Massachusetts is no exception.

Cameras

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Police won't enforce traffic issues in this city, so what is the argument against traffic cameras? Something more needs to be done - this is a pervasive problem in every neighborhood. Motorists drive through residential areas like they are on a highway, with no regard for pedestrians, cyclists and the reduced visibility due to street parking. If drivers don't want tickets they can stay on the highways.

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The argument against cameras

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The argument against cameras is that state law doesn't allow them. I believe (please do correct me if I'm wrong!) that stems from a provision in the MA constitution that gives you the right to face your accuser when charged with a crime.

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This.

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This.
Another issue that really, really bugs me is crosswalks across multi-lane roads. While the cars are stopped or slowing down for a pedestrian in one lane, drivers traveling at 30-40mph think "why the hell are they stopping" and whip around in the second lane without slowing down. The driver doesn't see the pedestrian, the pedestrian doesn't see the driver until the last moment. Just recently I was a witness to several near-misses like this and was on the receiving end of one.

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Can the tech world help?

I'm understandably hesitant on AV tech and the safety issues they pose but I wonder about other modifications we can make to cars. Can there be inhibitors in cars that won't let you drive faster than the posted speed limit? Can we make cars actually come to a complete stop at intersections? Maybe a mix of human drivers and autonomous safety controls?

Hell, car manufacturers are already advertising similar features, with carefully curated narratives about their new auto-braking system that will stop "pedtextrians" from getting run over.

Some will say this is too big brother but what else can we do? Enforcement and street redesigns can only do so much when people will just choose their own convenience over driving safely.

I read a comment from NYC about how a motorist tailgated and honked at someone in a school zone where they were going the speed limit. Car catches up to them at the next light and says "you don't have to slow down anymore, the cameras are gone!" This of course after the state let the camera program expire, the cameras are still rolling and collecting data, just no one gets ticketed anymore.

https://twitter.com/FightBackBR/status/1027616853789736960

"Can there be inhibitors in

"Can there be inhibitors in cars that won't let you drive faster than the posted speed limit?"

I don't see why this can't happen right now, for at least 95% of situations. My old Garmin Navi was able to tell me what the speed limit was and whether I was exceeding it, and that was in the mid 2000s. You could do it mostly through GPS and map data, and surely AV sensors are good enough to read speed limit signs by now.

But considering that the Buick I grew up driving had a speedometer that topped out at 85 and had a big red 55 in the middle, whereas the dial my girlfriend's VW Golf goes up to 160, I'm very skeptical about seeing that happen as a political matter.

You can imagine the objections. "What if it's an emergency? What if my wife is in labor? What if someone's chasing me?" Maybe put a button in the middle of the dash that lets you speed if you push it, but it calls the police on you and you have to provide a justification :)

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Oh yeah I can totally see the reasonable objections and barriers

Older cars will def be an issue, are the grandfathered in? Is it subsidized?

And yeah valid points about emergencies, needing to get to a hospital. I do kinda see the solution you mentinoed as working well.

But yeah maybe the legal barriers would be the hardest. Also don't think for a second that auto industry would get behind something like this, it flies directly in the face of what they advertise in their commercials.

Older Cars

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They won't need to be modified because the newer cars will restrain their speed. Over time, they will be replaced.

Skeptical

Cities actually contemplated requiring cars to have "speed governors" installed that would have restricted them to 25 mph when traveling in the city (incidentally 25 mph is now the default speed limit in Boston). However, the car lobby invented the term jaywalking and pushed for laws to criminalize walking. We are seeing the same sort of activity today with "distracted walking," etc.

Backstory: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2012/04/invention-jaywalking/1837/

I'm also skeptical that AVs will automatically follow the speed limit. The self-driving Uber that killed Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, AZ was speeding when it struck her.

Details: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/03/20/ubers-self-driving-car...

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Bangladesh

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If you haven't heard, there have been massive road safety protests over the last 2 weeks in Bangladesh. Remarkably similar circumstances to Boston, sparked after someone was killed by a speeder. The capital, Dhaka has practically been shut down at points as tens of thousands - mostly young student age - people have turned out to demand traffic enforcement reform. Google it, it's a really fascinating spontaneous public action.

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In Panama, when pedestrians

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In Panama, when pedestrians are killed by drivers speeding through town, the residents build their own speed bumps. Waiting for the government is not really an option. Because there are no standards, sometimes the speed bumps are half-foot high concrete rectangles. Drivers definitely slow down afterwards.

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If you did that

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I guarantee you BTD would be out the next morning to clean it up.

You know, the agency that is MIA until someone puts a cartoon in a bike lane and then they're on it, or the agency more than happy to blot out a bike lane when someone else repaints it for them but who need months of engineering to paint a line which was once there.

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Similarities

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end here. Not many young urban professionals marched or attended the community meeting. Self absorption is the norm in the USA.

Pretty impressive turnout.

Pretty impressive turnout. Almost every elected, though notably Marty was missing which clearly displeased the crowd. But: Lynch, Flaherty, Flynn, Collins, Essaibi-George, Wu, along with Willie Gross, Gina Fiandaca, and representatives from BTD, MassDOT, C-6, the State Police, and Lynch even brought two federal highway experts, one from NHTSA, and I couldn't catch the agency the other was from. The two main candidates for State Rep, Dave Biele and Matt Rusteika, spoke from the audience. Saw cameras for the other local news networks as well.

The moderator was Michael Donovan, the Suffolk County Clerk, who kept the catcalling to a minimum (he also made us all say the Pledge of Allegiance) and it was well organized with sign-up sheets for asking questions or making statements. The people on stage spoke for about 45 minutes, taking turns, and then there was about 90 minutes of Q&A.

Many calls for specific policies, some conflicting (several calls for giant parking garages to be built). Compelling calls for action from other victims of car collisions, including Katie Donovan and the two children of Billy McDermott. Lots of promises made from the stage, including a road diet on Day Blvd.

But I hope they don't just try and please Southie. I don't remember overwhelming city, state, and federal response for the eight-year-old girl in Mattapan, the two-year-old girl at Tufts Medical, and the five-month-old baby girl in Roxbury. The entire city deserves safe streets, and a rapid deployment of Vision Zero. Lynch talked about how NYC has reduced traffic deaths by 30%, and wanted to send some people there to find out how they did it. They did it by actually implementing Vision Zero! And quickly!

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Can we can take a page from the Dutch?

Maybe we should attack this like the Dutch did in the 1970s with Stop de Kindermoord . They set a clear goal of reducing child deaths from automobiles and its resulted in fewer deaths/injuries from motor vehicles, despite the the rise in population since being implemented.

Do we frame it around "lets stop having children murdered by cars" to get real meaningful change?

https://www.dutchreach.org/car-child-murder-protests-safer-nl-roads/

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Very true

Gah I'm usually good with the "accident vs. crash" part, but yes the motorists/drivers are the ones doing the murdering.

Pledge of Allegiance??

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The moderator was Michael Donovan, the Suffolk County Clerk, who kept the catcalling to a minimum (he also made us all say the Pledge of Allegiance)

Pledge of Allegeince

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If memory serves me correctly, Mr. Donovan invited us to stand if we wished to do so.
It wasn't compulsory.

"Try and please"?

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This neighborhood organized and called on those who are running things to answer for inaction on a very serious manner.
As far a what you called an overwhelming response, again we got together and demanded something be done. Bill McDermott ( a friend of mine) was killed in 2013. On Day Boulevard lighting has been installed since then.That's lame. It is a raceway to this day. There was also a reference to the state police not being aware of tractor trailer traffic on the roadway. Those trucks go right past the barracks on Day Boulevard. For them to say that is incredible. They didn't come out of that meeting looking good.
People have been getting hit, injured and killed on our neighborhood streets by drivers who are reckless. I don't see a comparison with any other neighborhood as far as this goes.
If you want to compare criminal misuse of firearms, this neighborhood is no stranger to that. For some reason the media chooses to ignore it.
We will be back out there again. Count on it.

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Because in NYC you can talk

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Because in NYC you can talk to your elected officials and they work for the population of the city. Boston we have City Councilors taking PAC money from Cali and pushing for developers visions and accepting displacement and open air drug dealing. NYC has one million trees 80/20 development and vision zero, no comparison.

Cars

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It's great the neighborhood does this, but the guy using L Street as a shortcut from Seaport to JFK/Umass Exit to avoid traffic will never care about going slow.

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"Short Cut"

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WTF does that even mean? So you are saying people should only drive on streets that you say they should drive on? Please do tell us what route that you have determined is the correct route and also tell us why the risk to pedestrians on those routes are somehow less than the risk on L street.
I am sure that when you see a traffic back up you never try to take an alternate route. What nonsense.

Translation:

"I cut through there all the time! And if I had to drive at a reasonable speed, I wouldn't save any time!"

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Nope, still saves time...

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I would have to go back and research when this accident that killed this boy took place. But I drive from Mattapan to Charlestown and back every single day and that route takes me down Day Blvd and down L Street through Southie. I do this at commute time, no way in hell is 93 faster. Where I would get on 93 at Gallivan its about 15 minutes just to get up the on-ramp, then crawl through the city in a tunnel breathing exhaust fumes.
No thanks, I like driving through the neighborhoods, I get to see my city and whats going on in it. Plus it is slower and not as full of maniac drivers.
That said, back to my first point about the time of the accident. I can say from doing the commute every day, I don't think I have EVER gone over 20-25 mph on L street. It's full of cars. There are two stop lights and a stop sign. I also let pedestrians cross, other drivers turn onto the street, etc. I think Boston area drivers need to collectively take a deep breath and realize YOU'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE. Hurry up and wait mentality is literally freakin' KILLING people.
Being that I utilize this route I would not like to see severe restrictions as to cars, however, I would FULLY support measures like raised intersections. Drive through Cambridge and Somerville, those are everywhere and the "emergency vehicle" argument is bunk. The raised intersections go in places JUST LIKE the street in question. It is densely populated neighborhood with many cross streets, not a main boulevard or through way. The impact to emergency vehicles would be marginal, the impact to pedestrians is HUGE.
In JP on Paul Gore Rd there are speed bumps, and even something like THAT would help, but those are kind of a joke compared to the raised intersections.
I feel for the folks in Southie, I used to live there and my street in Mattapan is on a hill and it's a cut through that people go WAY too fast on. Both my car AND my house have been hit by speeding vehicles on my street. Of course Mattapan is where the poors live so I don't expect the city to do anything, but in Southie, where rich important white folk live, they should be able to put up at least the facade of caring about these issues.

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re: Physical Changes

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This is correct. Boston is not meant for cars, and it is cars/ car drivers/ car culture that have ensured this inevitable outcome. You cannot traverse these neighborhood streets quickly due to the volume of cars that clog the streets every day--accidents like this happen when the street is either unusually clear, or a break in traffic permits a car driver to floor it in hopes of gaining at 1/16 of a mile at 45mph in a 25mph zone, at which point they have to break hard to avoid the actual average speed of Boston which is by natural selection much less even than 20mph.

Time to stop fighting reality and use physical structures to impede the progress of automobiles on Boston streets. Truth is staring you in the face, you have an important choice to make.

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Add a dedicated traffic car with officer willing to write fines

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Keep in mind the State Police are running one trooper on the desk and 2 or 3 on the road in most barracks, including South Boston, from the tunnels to Braintree, including the beaches. They can barely keep up with the accidents, breakdowns, and beach incidents, never mind tickets. Sometimes they get a federal grant for enforcement but we've seen how that goes unless well managed and supervised.

Each district on the Boston Police has a traffic car (Pete Nice can clarify, I've been retired a while) but usually only eight tickets per shift are required, so if the officer can "bang out" eight tickets in an hour, possibly all warnings with no consequences, they get to go home. Not effective.

A huge issue that goes unnoticed is that officers don't want to generate revenue for the insurance companies. Get rid of the insurance lobbyists and make traffic offenses a straight fine, half to the state, half to the city, no surcharge for insurance companies.

Union rules apply and SJC has ruled for officer discretion on warning/fines but Commissioner Gross should pick a dozen officers willing to write heavy fines on eight hour shifts for a while. These officers are called "Chapter 90 guys" (many cops want no part of tickets, others love Chapter 90) and you would see the problem cleared up in short order. The area patrol car isn't going to have time to do much traffic enforcement.

WTF is this?

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many cops want no part of tickets

Whatever happened to "Supervisor (as many levels up as needed) said to write tickets, so that's what you do. Since when does the individual cop get to decide whether they will enforce the traffic laws or not. Sure, they have some discretion but it shouldn't be to the level of "I don't like to write traffic tickets, so I just won't"

Let me tell you

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how Eastie can get this. Continue developing every empty lot with multiple unit developments with no parking. Allow triple deckers to be torn down and replace them with 4-5 story buildings with 8-10 luxury condos. With 3 -6 unrelated people in each unit with multiple cars and your traffic and human congestion will be just like Southie. Throw in an ambulance chasing photographer who post pictures of every car accident, illegally parked car and the occasional sunset picture and the mayhem will get publicized.

Boston area residents need to ask....

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...themselves a serious question:
What is it that we have to do/give/promise the rest of the state to stop all the bullshit and properly fund/invest in the MBTA?
We all know its the farmers in the Berkshires who don't want their taxes going up, the swamp yankees in Dighton who only come to Boston once every decade. What can we give these people and their representatives in the legislature to START building a reliable safe and on-time public transit system?
I know GM, Firestone and Standard Oil did their darnedest to kill it already but that was 50 years ago and this car driven urban society is not working. Its choking us with bad air and killing people just trying to cross the street. No one can get to work in a reasonable amount of time, and the price of real estate within an hour of the city (economic center) is spiraling out of control as a result.
Seems like a kick ass transit system would solve a lot of issues at once.
Oh well, what do I know?

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Fully fund all the transit systems

Not just the MBTA. All of them - Merrimack, Pioneer Valley, etc. That would be a good start and a healthy one.

The Governor is currently having a bit of an identity crisis over carbon emissions. MA will NOT meet goals going forward without reductions in auto emissions - reductions that will not be met with electric cars alone. That means transit.

This is where we separate Charlie from his Prized Kochs - transit as the ONLY means of continuing the carbon reductions of the past decade. ONLY. Feed that identity crisis and make it clear over and over what the choice is - not just for Boston, but for all of MA.