Update: SUV driver blames new road configuration, not impatience, for slamming into pedestrian in a crosswalk on Centre Street in West Roxbury.
A 53-year-old man walking across Centre Street in West Roxbury suffered head and rib injuries after being hit by an SUV near the TD Bank branch around 3:40 p.m.
"When I saw him, he was in the fetal position, face down with his head in his hands," said one of the last drivers to pass the scene before police shut Centre between Willow and Corey streets. He added the man may have been walking to the post office because there were packages strewn around him.
The crash comes as the city is re-configuring Centre Street between Holy Name Rotary and Lagrange Street in an attempt to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and even motorists, through measures that include reducing the number of motor-vehicle lanes in each direction from two to one and creating dedicated bike lanes. The goal is slowing down the drivers who regularly speed down the road and the elimination of "double threat" crashes, in which a driver in one lane stops for a pedestrian, who then gets slammed by a motorist in the other lane who doesn't stop.
The work, still ongoing, will include a new center turn lane, pedestrian islands at intersections and reconfigured traffic signals. The work started in October with the installation of new handicap ramps.
Although parts of Centre are now marked for just one travel lane in each direction, with a new center turn lane and curbside bike lanes, the city has yet to put up permanent signs or road markings to alert motorists to the new configuration.
Motorists today continued to park right at the curb, in what is supposed bike lanes, rather than in the new parking lanes a few feet away from the curb.
The city first began looking at reducing lanes on Centre Street in 2019, following the death of Marilyn Wentworth as she walked across Centre at Hastings Street. But Mayor Walsh shut that down after vociferous protests from some West Roxbury residents who charged the plan was really a plot by bicycle interests and other horrible people to destroy the neighborhood.
The Wu administration revived the basic idea in May, as part of an overall citywide effort to make streets safer.