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Boston plans to speed up measures to slow drivers down

Speed hump on Evans Street in Mattapan

Expect more car-slowing speed humps, like this one on Evans Street in Mattapan.

City officials this week unveiled a "safety surge" program aimed at making neighborhood streets, intersections and certain key thoroughfares safer for pedestrians, bicyclists - and motorists.

Under the program - for which Mayor Wu has proposed $12 million in additional road-safety funding for the coming fiscal year - more neighborhood streets would get car-slowing speed humps, intersections would get traffic signals designed to give pedestrians more time to get across the street and, in many cases, a ban on right turns on red. Several key roadways - Blue Hill Avenue, Tremont Street in the South End, Centre Street in West Roxbury and Cummins Highway - would get extensive redesigns aimed at increasing the odds pedestrians could get across the street in one piece by reducing the number of lanes, adding islands and taking other steps to try to curb speeding.

Residential streets

At a press conference on Monday at the Thetford Evans Playground in Mattapan, which is surrounded by streets with speed humps, Wu and Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge said they plan to accelerate the number of streets that get speed humps and to use based on city traffic and crash data, rather than on relying on the previous "Slow Streets" program, in which residents on particular streets would compete in an annual competition to convince the city they lived on the worst street.

Also, instead of just doing one street at a time, the city will install speed humps in "zones" of several adjoining streets. Franklin-Hodge said experience with the earlier program showed that speed-hungry drivers learned to avoid slowing down by diverting to a neighboring street. He estimated that 394 of the total 800 miles of roads in Boston would eventually be eligible for speed humps, although the city will only have enough money to add the humps to 10 groups of streets at a time - but that will mean 500 new speed humps a year.

Intersections

The city plans to update 25 to 30 intersections a year to "allow for better sightlines, slower speeds, clearer crossings, and defined spaces for all road users." The most obvious and immediate change will be signs prohibiting right turns on red, in particular on congested streets downtown and in neighborhood business districts, as well as near schools, senior centers, parks, libraries, MBTA stations and hospitals. Signals will also be timed to give pedestrians a jump, of several seconds, in which to cross before motorists get a green light. The city will decide which intersections get the upgrades based on safety-history data and neighborhood demographics

Thoroughfares

The city is also starting projects on four major streets with this new plan: Blue Hill Avenue, Centre Street between West Roxbury Parkway and Spring Street in West Roxbury, Cummins Highway and Tremont Street in the South End. These projects all have a history of high speeds from drivers and major crashes that have led to death and injury. Franklin-Hodge described the Centre Street project as including converting the roadway from four total travel lanes to three - with the third, center lane being used for new left-turn lanes and as "flex" space for use by first responders in emergencies. Intersections would get re-timed lights that favor pedestrians. City officials will detail the Centre Street plans at a meeting at the Ohrenberger School, 175 West Boundary Rd. in West Roxbury, at 6 p.m. on May 31.

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Comments

Having BPD start heavily ticketing these drivers who speed. Its the only way people will slow down.

So no instead we're going to put speed bumps and redesign intersections because BPD won't do their job. MAKES TOTAL SENSE.

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MA/Boston should act like other cities and install speed cameras. Look at the NYC data. The cameras work at making people slow down like nothing else will. The cameras don't profile. They also bring in a lot of money for the city, a tax on people who can't keep their foot off the gas.

If laws need to change for the speed cameras, change the laws.

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Allow people to report illegal parking via mobile devices and send automated tickets for violations.
Install cameras on buses and emergency vehicles to ticket vehicles that illegal block those vehicles.

Won't tackle speeding/reckless driving of course because due process/evidence/radar blah blah blah but it can't hurt right?

And for all the anti-bike zealots, think about how this would free up police resources to better tackle reckless cycling! No promises that they'll actually do traffic enforcement of course, based on current trends.

But then again, you see in NYC how many skirt the cameras be facing license plates or covering them (shocked Pikachu face, the police do it too!)

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How many people are hit by parked cars every year?

But let's not let the topic at hand detract from your agenda.

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Next deflection!

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So can protestors who block highways. Methinks you wouldn't be making that argument in that case.

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Not a fan of those tactics Remind me though, do those protestors get arrested/fined for said actions?

What's the next deflection?

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Cars idle and park in front of handicap ramps all the time, but let protestors shut down one road (that has alternate routes) for a brief time on one day and that's the problem.

Stop the whatabouting, it's really stale.

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Idiot drivers open their doors into bike lanes and injure the doored cyclists all the time.

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They block bike lanes, bus stops, and crosswalks in ways that reduce road safety.

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I'm actually in favor of ticketing illegally parked cars, but that's not the topic at hand.

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No no no, not THAT aspect of road safety.

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Red light run cams around the Common would make so much money. I worked at the intersection of Tremont and Boylston for years and people just plow right through a red -- only to always be stopped at Stuart Street.

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We need both enforcement and redesigned streets. Drivers around here are just that terrible.

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I was going to post a "por que no los dos" but you basically already did.

I would love to see local PDs start targeting bad behavior. Maybe go find some crosswalks and write some tickets there for people who fly through. Red lights? You bet. And then people who seem to think "no left turn" signs are suggestions on the J-Way (you know, where both of the people in front of me on the J-Way were turning left despite a pretty clear "yeah, uh, no" sign, although that's MSP so I won't hold my breath).

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There is a crash with injury and property damage at least every 30 minutes in Boston. They barely have time to cover them. "Heavily Ticketing" would require thousands more officers on the streets 24 hours a day.

The least expensive fix would be make cars that are unable to exceed the speed limit. If google maps knows whether you are exceeding the limit, so does your car.

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But I've driven over the speed tables on Washington Ave in Chelsea at like 35 MPH and it sounded like my car was going to explode.

I'm pretty sure the prospect of a damaged car is more likely to reduce speeds than just handing out a bunch of tickets. At the very least it would be significantly more cost effective than increasing traffic details around the city.

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I've said this before, but no it wouldn't. Studies have shown that traffic enforcement is the least effective and most expensive method of traffic calming. Changing the actual infrastructure is the best way to slow people down. People's knee jerk reaction to any problem tends to be to look to the police and it's usually not the right solution.

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NYC has been publishing data and the speed cameras really do result in a reduction in speeding. Here's an article and a google search will show many more.

Perhaps active enforcement (cop pulling someone over) isn't effective but the speed cameras most certainly are.

That isn't to say the roads shouldn't be reconfigured but the cameras are cheap, quick, and effective.

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rain or shine, no matter how tempting that Solitaire game is.

If there is *any* way to reduce traffic violations by making it physically difficult to perform them, that should be our first approach. Active 24/7 enforcement by police officers to get the same effect has to be far more expensive. (Think of how many we would need!)

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Glad to see they're moving from setting priorities using the "squeaky wheel" method to actually looking at data; ridiculous that it's taken so long. It's good to finally have a mayor taking street safety seriously.

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You know, Mayor "You've got to understand, cars are going to hit you"?

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From the condition of some streets, potholes, frost heaves and poor contractor patch jobs, it's like off-roading.
Just institute the spread of these driver obstacles throughout the city and that should slow drivers down (unless they want to bottom out).
Happy Motoring!

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The most obvious and immediate change will be signs prohibiting right turns on red, in particular on congested streets downtown and in neighborhood business districts, as well as near schools, senior centers, parks, libraries, MBTA stations and hospitals.

Let's just save a lot of time and signage and just make it right turn on red illegal city-wide.

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The past decades we were told speed bumps would cause problems with first responders. And even snow removal.
Now - all that was just made up???

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but it's probably worth it for the lives saved and quality-of-life improvements.

One thing I've heard is that first responders mainly use the larger, non-residential streets that don't have speed bumps anyhow, and only at the last bit of their trip will they be on streets with speed humps.

I'm sure snow removal will get a little harder, but the sinusoidal speed humps are honestly pretty smooth.

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