Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fighting For My Life As A Pedestrian

Since I started at this new assignment, my only experience with the T is with the Red Line when I have to go to the main office at the Seaport, meet friends or run errands over the weekend. I have been saving money because of this -- I spend less than the $59 monthly T pass each month. Things have been pretty hunky dory because of this. I usually walk to work every morning, enjoying the lovely weather (when I am not sneezing from allergies or dodging the splashes of rain from cars), and crossing the Charles River via the Longfellow Bridge from Cambridge to Massachusetts General Hospital. I have more energy in general and I get more exercise and fresh air. I have been clocking in over 10,000 steps a day on my pedometer.

Boston is a prime walking city. In fact, it probably is easier to walk or take the T to locations within the city center when you account for parking prices, parking availability, today's astronomical gas prices, pedestrians who have a tendency to not look out for traffic before crossing streets and "Masshole" driving habits. However, I fight for my life every morning and afternoon when I attempt to cross from or to the Longfellow Bridge at the Liberty Hotel.

I am not sure if this intersection has no pedestrian crossing lights due to the remnants of the Big Dig, the road being dug up a million times or just the confusing maze of roads that Boston is known for. After centuries of bad road design, Boston's Department of Transportation still has not learned good road design for idiot drivers. This intersection allows traffic coming from Cambridge Street, Charles Street and cars coming off the Longfellow Bridge from Cambridge to go to Leverett Circle (which is another nightmarish place in itself, but that's another story for city drivers), Storrow Drive West or Storrow Drive East, and vice versa. None of these roads are well signed, so there are cars weaving everywhere without signalling. By the way, there are traffic lights there too! They just flash red and yellow, with low mounted pedestrian yield and Stop signs. Now, wouldn't one think that a major intersection of this sort would have pedestrian walking signs if so many people use this historic bridge to cross between Boston and Cambridge where there is a sidewalk (oh, and which suddenly disappears at this intersection with a nice big street light impeding the way!). Naaahhh...silly thought.

I've gotten relatively better at identifying which cars are attempting to travel where. The cars coming off the off ramp from Storrow Drive are not the issue. They already slow down well enough in anticipation of the backing up of traffic going to Charles Street, or to make the right turn onto Longfellow Bridge. The problem is the traffic coming from Cambridge Street and Charles Street. These people are hitting their gas pedal to accelerate on the on ramp onto any of the Storrow Drive entrances and being already frustrated by the long red lights, they are not letting any measly pedestrians stop them from where they need to be going. It is scary because most of them do not use their signals, or even if they do, a pedestrian cannot really tell which way the vehicle is heading. I urge Boston to please, reconsider pedestrianizing this intersection.

Wish me luck out there...if you do not see another post from me within 6 months, assume the worst.


gcw said...

wow. i'm from the west coast, not as bad as your problems, but still problems. nice ran!

Nicklebones said...

While it is indeed a pain for pedestrians (and bikers! I almost got slammed there once), it's just as big a pain for drivers. The signage is horrible, there are no lane markers, and the entrance to Storrow Eastbound is a mess, especially from over the Longfellow. This is one of those intersections that is never going to be fun for anyone.

I don't have a car anymore; you're right that Boston is a great walking city, but at the end of the day, everyone is at fault. Drivers in Boston become Massholes because of jaywalkers. Pedestrians almost never wait for the "walk" signal. I haven't been to Charles Circle in a while, so don't know the status of the signals, but I think everyone, both in and out of the vehicle, needs to express a little patience. Just listen to Guns n Roses.