Monday, August 18, 2008

Going with the flow - The Boston Globe

Going with the flow - The Boston Globe

There was a great article--funny too--the other day in the Globe. I think the real Newburyport bloggers (Salemi, Ari, Gillian, Mary Baker, Mr/Ms X) should drive this guy on a ride through our own beloved streets.

A few interesting insights by the author on the drive through Boston:

"We just passed a classic sign: 'Slippery when wet.' It's a sign that, on the days when it's not wet, nobody pays attention to. When it is wet, do you then pay attention? The more signs that don't apply to your situation at the moment, the more you disregard them. 'Slow, children' signs are the bane of traffic engineers. People get frustrated with speeding and get towns to put up these signs, but they tend not to accomplish anything."

"Very European-inspired city, isn't it? This sort of narrow street, with a lot of obstacles and parking on both sides, is called a self-explaining road - you don't need a speed limit. Whether this always works is hard to say, but it's natural traffic-calming. If you put a speed bump here, people would speed up after the bump."

"Well-designed rotaries are safer than conventional intersections."

"Congestion is as old as cities. Cities thrive on congestion. To have a Boston that you could whisk through magically at some free-flowing speed in a car would raise a question: Would it still be Boston? The easier you make it for drivers, the more driving you're going to attract. The easier you make it to get into a city, the farther out people will choose to live."

"[Economist] Donald Shoup's argument is that if you raise the price of meters to the point where spaces are never more than 85 percent occupied, you'd eliminate a lot of bargain-hunting, meandering around, adding to the traffic with destinationless driving."

My own personal Top 4 favorite challenges in NBPT driving:
4) Route 1 Rotary--cars coming northbound from Newbury seem to be magnetically attracted to vehicles exiting to Dunkin Donuts or get washed. Rotaries and Dunkin Donuts are two great things that don't go well together.
3) Hyman Pennyworth Shoes and Dunkin Donuts--I'm not normally paranoid (really) but how does Dunkin Donuts get these locations approved? Go slow when you pull into Pennyworth's because some overly caffeinated commuter may come whipping around the corner.
2) Taking a left onto High Street from anywhere especially morning and evening commute times.
1) Moseley Woods Intersection....some call it the Chain Bridge time you drive through notice the damaged stone wall apparently hit repeatedly over the years. The Community Preservation Committee recommended and the City Council approved funding to fix the wall as a historic/open space/recreation project. Councillor Derrivan had the line of the night--"There's nothing historic about it except a history of people running into it."

I'd love to hear your favorite Newburyport driving funspots.

Let's be careful out there!


Gillian Swart said...

The Plum Island Turnpike when it's snowing and blowing! People drive too fast, hit a patch of blown snow, or just plain can't see, and end up in the marsh.

Thanks, btw, for characterizing me as a "real" blogger! But aren't you "real"? :)

Dick Monahan said...

4) The rotary. I think it's too wide. If it were only one lane wide, everyone would have to slow down and observe the rules. There were lots of rotaries around here when I was growing up, and I think replacing most of them has been a huge mistake. I've had the opportunity to drive a fair amount in England, where they are the principal form of intersection, and where they work very well.

3) Pennyworth. I guess I haven't been there enough to understand this one. If I wanted to shop, I wouldn't have got married.

2) Left onto High. So, go turn right on Low. :-)

1) Moseley/Chain. This should be a 4-way stop. I rarely go through it any way except Merrimac to/from the Bridge, on which route I never have to stop, so I would be affected. But, it would solve the problem.
5?) You didn't mention Merrimac and Rt 1, that seems to bother lots of people. The only bother I have is when I'm behind some "chicken" who won't go out into traffic. :-)

Tom Salemi said...

I'm a fan of suicidal intersections.

I miss the old days of whipping off the Tobin Bridge into the left lane of the expressway. You had roughly 10 seconds and 300 feet to get into the right lane if you wanted to hit the Storrow Drive exit.

And Packard Corner near BU. Man, Comm Ave, Brighton Ave, and the B-line dumping into the same intersection. That was fun. Too bad they put in the traffic light.

My winner is Moseley, however. It just seems to defy intuition or logic. Is that really going to be the detour when/if they close the Whittier Bridge? Will the rotary be finished first?

X said...

the mosely intersection is fine, you either have a stop sign or you don't. if you do, you stop until its safe, if you don't you proceed through the intersection. it isn't rocket science. and i don't think the damage to the wall is from people running into it, i can't recall the last time there was an accident there that involved the wall.

another reason why it can't be a 4 way stop is that the traffic along the bridge would get backed up.

its fine as is, people just need to be better drivers.

Ari Herzog said...

That Moseley intersection is a piece of cake, compared to the notorious "Five Corners" intersection in Easton, Mass.

Why *is* there a DD in the middle of a rotary? And I'm impressed you called it a rotary and not a traffic circle. Maybe you're not a native. *grin*

Anonymous said...

Ed Cameron is not real, he is a hologram I am using while boldly going where no man has gone before.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Starship Enterprise.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the issue from the 'other end of the telescope' IE the walker or biker, I'd like to see Storey Ave.'walkability' improved so folks from Ferry Rd, condos behind Dunkin, Moseley Ave. etc can WALK to shop at Port Plaza, Market Basket, etc.

The cross walk lines are nearly invisible, the cross walk lights are too short, and cross walk at Port Plaza ends in the middle of the road!

With everyone trying to save on gas, fixing some of these small things would allow for more walkable/shopable behaviors.

Ari Herzog said...

Speaking of crosswalks, the lines are nearly non-existent along the both sides of Merrimac Street that cross Route 1.