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DIY home traffic study shows at least part of Centre Street in West Roxbury is a speedway

Jason Bylsma lives on the stretch of Centre Street between Holy Name and Weld Street. He describes building a $60 home traffic-speed setup using a Raspberry Pi, a cheap camera, some open-source software and a bit of tape and cable ties, and then turning it on to monitor speeds on the street outside his home.

25th to 75th percentile speeds on Centre St are well above the posted speed limit of 25 mph at all hours, 7 days a week. Few drivers are ever measured travelling below the posted speed limit.

Now, this is outside the main business district, the one where pedestrians risk their lives and the city occasionally proposes traffic-calming proposals that are squashed by locals convinced hateful commie socialist bicyclists from away are out to destroy their beautiful way of life, but one might assume the speed racers are not going to want to slow down much once they hit the rotary.

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It's too bad this stretch is at most 3/4 of a mile from the nearest police station. You can't expect them to make the trek out that far to enforce the speed limit.

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There was a community meeting about this same issue and area and at this meeting a red faced ( before and after! ) Dep.Com.James Gilooly of the Boston Transportation Dep. stated “ We have bn looking into installing speed bumps in this location “ ????! Speed bumps lol

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His proposed solution is speed cameras?

Great, bye bye any semblance of privacy left in this state.

Would it be so hard to have someone from BPD District E-5, located ON Centre Street, just actually enforce the speed limit?

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It's identifying the car. You know, the huge thing with the unique metal plates on the ends.

No one should think the location of a car on public roads is private or that they have right to hide that data. (No doubt, your cell phone provider and the maker of your cell phone record it 24/7.)

Speed cameras save lives. They don't violate civil liberties.

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Voting closed 98

The thing with unique metal plates on the end in a database, not a database that includes every location it pictured your plate at. We already have this garbage for tolling, no need to let it proliferate further.

Just because cell phones already track us mean we should give up and let even more things track us.

And, seriously, what's the problem with sending a cop a couple hundred yards down the road to actually stop people?

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I've heard they are abused by cash strapped municipalities, but I haven't seen much in the way of evaluation of crash prevention or lives saved.

Do you have any sources where their effectiveness has been evaluated in terms of lives saved?

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By the city's lack of enforcement of the laws. Why should we have to endure living like we're on the infield of the Daytona 500? This needs to stop and pussyfooting about studies is just the type of thing we don't need.

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Sprinkle flower petals and holy water? Get a traffic shaman or a congestion witch to spiritually occupy the crosswalks?

I'm sure people would believe that would do something. BELIEVE and it will HAPPEN.

Sorry, I am a scientist. There are a lot of speed cameras in a lot of places that have been in action for a lot of years. That means there is a lot of data that can be analyzed to see whether or not the proposed approach has any merit before we spend any money on it.

And if there isn't analysis to support this, that is a red flag about efficacy.

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From the CDC:

The Shin et al. (2009) study examined effects of a fixed camera enforcement program applied to a 6.5-mile urban freeway section through Scottsdale, Arizona. The speed limit on the enforced freeway is 65 mph; the enforcement trigger was set to 76 mph. Total target crashes [crashes during nonpeak periods that are materially affected by camera enforcement] were reduced by an estimated 44 to 54 percent, injury crashes by 28 to 48 percent, and property damage only crashes by 46 to 56 percent during the nine month program period.

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She's going to split hairs about this. She's not arguing in good faith or here to help. She doesn't care that we have to deal with this bs.

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Much.

And you don't seem interested in learning anything, either.

Stop arguing with yourself. Start providing information and we will discuss it.

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... people are tired of your pontificating.

Good for you. You’re finally paying attention.

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You show up to assert things without evidence.

This isn't the argument clinic - that was fictional.

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Read the room and back off. You're not helping

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There is a clear link between speed and fatality on interstates, and it looks like the speed traps did slow the traffic with substantial reductions in crashes and fatalities. Good start.

I'm going to see if my household professional traffic engineer has any references for city streets.

I half wonder if some of the local resistance to speed cameras is that they put speeders on other streets even less appropriate for high speeds? Or that they are believed to? That's what happens with scale openings and trucks - they all divert to other roadways.

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My professional traffic engineer friends say they work in other states.

The reason people don't like cameras is because no one likes getting a ticket. Speeding is something that is so common it's rare to find someone who doesn't exceed the speed limit even if they otherwise would never break the law.

Enforcement on local roads is practically nonexistent so the only time people get in trouble is when they are caught by a camera, at least in other states. Unlike cops, cameras don't profile drivers. (Although some argue they are only installed in minority neighborhoods.)

How about this: Boston (and Medford!) do an experiment with speed cameras. Install 25 or so, only set to give a fine if the driver is exceeding the limit by 10mph. Keep the cameras running for at least 24 months and see if collisions on those streets decrease.

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The fact that some obstinate and loathsome trolls can't see this is a self evident fact of reality is just amazing

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If you fine speeders repeatedly they will stop speeding.

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Clyde and Lee Streets in Brookline have a speed limit of 35. You could very comfortably drive 50 on that stretch, but people don't. You know why? Because the Brookline PD routinely has enforcement along there and people just KNOW not to speed. Enforcement works.

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In case you didn't read the post it takes a guy in WR to do the job that our overpaid city employees refuse to do

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You don't drive 50 on Lee Street?

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That entire stretch is a speedway, I have no idea what OP is talking about.

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As soon as I get on there I set my cruise control at 35 and just settle in for the slow ride. I only have someone pass me about 30% of the time. I've seen too many people pulled over there to take a chance.

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The problem is most of the "studies" are funded by groups who have an agenda going in. But there are some papers, here is one from the UK.

Edit: Here's a page from the CDC that has links to all sorts of studies.

It's pretty easy to spot when towns are juicing the numbers to make cash -- just put someone on the ground with a stopwatch and see how long the yellow light is lit and have a vehicle with a calibrated speedometer go past the indicator and see if they match.

If a town is violating the regulations, all fines should be nullified. But otherwise, they are worth using.

Even if no fines are issued, it would be worth documenting speeding cars and sending the driver a note that the occurrence is on record.

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Thank you.

I have noticed that many of the studies were funded by the people who make the equipment. This collection gives some clarity.

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"Privacy" is a meaningless term and has been for years. Don't speed on our streets if you want "privacy."

The only way to stop this dangerous behavior is fine people until they stop.

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Me not speeding means nothing if my plate is logged with a location and timestamp.

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that isn't already happening

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Just add bike lanes.

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Sure, go 20mph over the speed limit. You might get airborne before you damage your vehicle on the landing.

And then our citizen scientist can put together compilations with a yakkity sax soundtrack!

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More speeding cars going airborne into people's houses.

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Citations needed.

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In Chelsealand to give a xanax to traffic on Washington Ave, 3 intersections have a "Speed Table"

Now my warped mind goes to people doing amphetamines off a glass coffee table, but its really just a raised intersection.

You will know if you are going too fast as you'll jolt. It works and provides the much needed xanax for drivers along this road. Also provides work for local mechanics replacing shocks on some of these low-rider cars that go a little too fast over these things.

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For good reason.

Raised intersections are a great win win win solution for a lot of traffic nonsense. They slow through traffic, they slow traffic on turns, they "raise" awareness of the existence of side streets and crosswalks and also prevent the "puddle of ice" effect at the bottom of the sidewalk ramps that is such a hazard to pedestrians and chair users alike.

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I convinced my dad to take a speed bump at 45+ mph in the '86 Volvo station wagon. The shocks/suspension took the full hit, and there was almost no jostling in the passenger compartment.

We got the same results the guy in this video did: It's more comfortable to go over speed bumps at high speed than at low.

And yes, it's probably bad for the car, but it doesn't feel like it at the time.

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.

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Just as an observation I sat waiting for someone and was looking at the speed display on Centre St at St Theresa’s a week or so ago. And for 10 minutes maybe three cars were under 25. Mostly since they were at the red light. Some were above 40. Not good along that busy stretch
It is not if but when someone else will be seriously injured crossing Centre street. I know Wu was pro traffic calming at one point. I could be and should be an issue in the upcoming Mayoral election. Not just in West Roxbury either

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the term "Traffic Calming" makes me snicker.

I feel like to calm traffic we'd have to have traffic take up meditation or pass out xanax to drivers.

(yes I know its a real term.. but its just funny)

Is Traffic Calming like "taming a lion"... it can't be done without the lions help?

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"...one might assume the speed racers are not going to want to slow down much once they hit the rotary."

They do, though.

I drive both stretches of Centre St. daily. I see cars speeding pretty much every day between the rotary and Weld St., and they run the red light at Centre & South constantly.

But the speed between the rotary and Spring St. is definitely slower, at least during the day, if only because of all the red lights.

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Is there any data that shows this is a problem? What is the accident rate on this stretch?

If the only issue is that most people drive faster than the 25 mph limit, the 85th percentile rule says the speed limit should be raised to make things safer.

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None of the articles you linked to occurred on this stretch of Centre.

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North of that is a single lane very wide stretch (Between the rotary and Weld) where cars go faster.

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Search results are not statistics.

And as Pete pointed out, just because a crash happens on Centre Street doesn't mean it was on the stretch north of the rotary.

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Slow down. What is so f'ing difficult about it?

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Inappropriate speed limits are dangerous. One person slowing down won't fix that.

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slow down, no one cares about your dumb excuses

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How.

Note: My dad was and my son is a traffic engineer. You are going to have to make a technical case here, not the AAA anecdotal case or the 50 year old theory case.

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The road is designed for cars to be able to safely go 40 MPH. I may be mistaken, as I don't drive there usually, but I believe that 40 was once the speed limit, or easily 35.

At the end of the day, the average motorist will go as fast or slow as they think they can drive. As this is not an area known for crashes, reducing the speed limit to 10 to 15 MPH less than what people are used to going on a stretch like this will have no effect on the actual speed of cars.

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Especially since as we see all the time, quite a lot of motorists are willing to drive faster than they can safely do so.

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I can’t recall a bad accident on that stretch, as opposed to other sections of Centre Street.

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if there hasn't been a bad accident there yet, that must mean its safe to speed there.

While we're talking, can I interest you in this rock? It keeps tigers away!

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Can drive it safely IF there are no crosswalks, no side streets, no pedestrians ...

Should drive the speed that takes these factors into consideration.

Engineering speed limits underestimate the true risks of traveling a given speed in an urban environment in the same way that risk assessments that ignore staffing levels don't adequately predict the risk of explosions in chemical plants and FEMA flood maps that ignore street flooding and sea level rise and groundwater intrusion underestimate true flooding risk.

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Have you ever been on this stretch of road. Ironically, changing it from 2 lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction, without actually narrowing the road, probably causes a speed increase.

Any road engineer with their degree will tell you that drivers drive the speed a road was made for. That road was not made for a 25 MPH speed limit. It’s like when the national speed limit was set at 55. How did that work out?

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Reducing the road to 3 lanes brings it closer to the original state. I believe the traffic diet plan called for this. If you include a protected bike lane it forces the single lane of cars to slow down.

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I had to go to West Roxbury to do something an hour ago. For the heck of it, I drove Centre Street from Weld to the rotary without looking at my speedometer. I had a green light at South Street. I looked at the speedometer when I was at the point where, if the light was red, I'd be applying the breaks. I was doing 35. By the time I got to Holy Name, I was doing around 40. For comparison, I was doing 30 on Belgrade and under 25 on Corinth, all with no traffic. The bottom line- road design is much more important than what a politician says the speed limit should be. Watch the video I linked to below. The guy basically says the same thing.

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I agree that a sign does little to control speed. I don't think punitive enforcement is successful either. There is all kinds of technology out there to beat cameras. You can put a clear cover on a plate that prevents camera from reading it. There are glasses that will reflect a white ball that blocks your entire face on cctv, but looks normal to the naked eye.

Redesigning the road for safe urban use is the best plan. There is no need to go faster than 25 in the city.

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If you have 12 minutes to spare, check out this video explaining how there is a difference between what is legal and what speed people can (and do) drive at.

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None of this is news and none of it will convince the knuckledraggers who ranted and raved like maniacs when the Centre St road diet was first proposed. With Walsh gone, I'm hoping Mayor Janey or whoever wins in November will tell them to pound sand and get the crews out there to change the street permanently once and for all.

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when cameras solve the problems over night

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Unless we have some evidence from their very long history in traffic enforcement that they WILL solve the problem?

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than the thousands of years of punitive punishment being used to minimize harmful behavior. Just stop.

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The locals quickly learn where the cameras are, and speed right back up once they're past them.

Cameras snag the unsuspecting out-of-towner their first time in the area, but what does that accomplish? That trip where they sped was just as speedy as if the camera weren't there. And once they get the ticket they'll know where the camera is and drive like a local.

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This guy built a camera for $60. They can be put everywhere thus making your unhelpful whataboutism moot.

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read your sentences before you press reply.

Actually there is a lot of research where punitive punishment does not help. I am also wondering if you having a reading problem because I am not sure you disagree with Swirly.

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Why do you have what seems like an obsessive objection to traffic cameras?

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This type of pressure is sure to cause some blowback. Don't be surprised if you get a visit from ISD or some other city group coming to harass you for having the nerve to pressure the bureaucracy to take any action other than sponging up our property taxes and giving us the shaft.

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We could do redesign and cameras. Redesign the road to promote slower speeds and then put cameras up to ticket folks who still speed. The goal should be a self-enforcing speed limit.

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2021/3/30/automated-enforcement

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