Friday, May 2, 2008

Crossing Boylston

Update: Susannah pointed out I left out the Eliot pedestrian bridge: great way to get to Upper Falls. If you want to get to Needham Street, though, the underpass is the only feasible route.

Aside from the signaled crosswalk at Woodcliff, there are few safe ways to cross Boylston. The ills of the Parker St. bridge have already been chronicled here (if anything, it's gotten worse now that traffic barrels on the western side block driver visibility even more effectively than than the badly placed utility pole),
the crossing at Langley is signaled, but intimidating, and the crossing at Woodward/Eliot is chaotic.

But the Centre Street/Boylston overpass wins the prize for unsafe crossings.

As you can see in the picture, hazards abound. The truck in the foreground turned without signaling (that's a brake light, not a turn signal), the blue PT Cruiser swerved suddenly to avoid the Honda waiting to turn left, and there's a bus coming, which means something unpredictable is bound to happen. It's just a matter of time before someone gets hurt here.

Would lane markings help? Crosswalks? A better road surface? Less gravel and sand on the sidewalk? Signage that makes sense? (The sign at the corner says "No Parking Here to Corner", as if parking on this stretch of Centre before an entrance ramp makes any sense.) I know there are long-term plans afoot for this corridor, but some easy fixes in the short-term could make this area a lot safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike.


susannah said...

islands and signalization would help, but this crossing is best avoided by pedestrians and bikes.

You can get across Rt. 9 also at the Eliot T stop bridge--it's ramped, and just a short jog on the southern sidewalk to connect to quiet Martha Street.

Steve Runge said...


Thanks for the response! It's my first posting and first comment.

Two quick points:

1. My mission is to make streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. To that end, I'll continue to point out dangerous intersections and things that can be done to improve them. If instead I were just to advise self-propelled people to avoid certain intersections, I'd feel like I was failing my mission.

2. Thanks for pointing out the Eliot T stop ped. bridge: that's a great route for Upper Falls. If I want to get to Winchester, Needham, or Dedham streets, I have little choice (alas!) but to use the Boylston underpass at Centre, since the Woodcliff crossing is pretty far out of the way.