Sunday, March 4, 2012

Failure to Yield and Crosswalk Design

In Somerville, MA we have this community path for bicyclists and pedestrians that stretches all the way to the neighbouring town of Arlington, grazing Cambridge along the way. The path is great, except that it is frequently interrupted by busy roads and the crossings can be challenging. We had this one particular interruption, where cyclists had to make a complicated series of turns and negotiate a major intersection in order to get from one stretch of the path to another. Then sometime last year, construction began at that intersection. Rumor had it they were making a crosswalk that would cut through the series of islands - a straight line connecting the disjointed stretches of community path. That is exactly what they did, and the new intersection was unveiled a couple of months ago. 

It's hard to capture the whole thing in photographs; it is vast and consists of 4 separate crosswalk segments. But the pictures above each show a chunk that should give you an idea of how it's designed. In 3 of the 4 segments there are traffic lights with clear red and green signals. And there is another small segment not visible here where there is just a crosswalk without a traffic light. In theory the design is great, because it creates a direct line of travel connecting the community path, without forcing cyclists to make an elaborate detour. In practice however, there is one big problem: Drivers don't yield. Some drivers make right turns on a red light at full speed without even checking whether anyone is in the crosswalk, others make U-turns on a red light, and others still simply run the red light altogether. In some instances the drivers obviously see me, but proceed anyway, forcing me to stop abruptly in the middle of the intersection or to speed up if I am already in their line of travel. 

Roughly half the time I go through this intersection, something like this happens - to the point where I absolutely do not trust it anymore. It's a shame that all this work was done, and drivers' failure to yield ruins it. It is also frightening that the crosswalks look so nice and friendly, while in reality it is quite dangerous. I cannot really think of a solution, but it's clear that something needs to change in the local drivers' mentalities in order for attempts to create decent, convenient infrastructure to be truly successful. The infrastructure itself is not always enough. 

66 comments:

  1. Just for clarification, the path continues from Somerville into Cambridge, before continuing into Arlington. That cluster%^*k of a crossing at Mass Ave that you're commenting on happens to be in Cambridge.

    I agree completely with your assessment. And worse, when the crossing was completed last year, East-bound motorists on Mass Ave got a green arrow to make that 45 degree right onto Cedar Street when all other traffic had red. Pedestrians and cyclists all got the walk signal, which created the illusion that they were protected from traffic. Not so! Even worse, that 45 degree turn onto Cedar is relatively blind to pedestrians waiting to cross at Cedar. I called Cambridge's DPW to report it, and they said they "would check into it". I'm not sure if this has been resolved.

    So yeah, this crossing is one huge fail. What would have been better is to make the entire crossing a raised crossing like so many others that have proven successful n Cambridge. Then again, Mass Ave is the main artery running through Cambridge, and a huge fraction of commuters from the west take Mass Ave into Cambridge. So I can imagine the opposition motorists would have to actually slow down for a raised pedestrian crossing.

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    1. Thanks for pointing out the intersection is in Cambridge, I thought this was Arlington already, transitioning directly from Somerville. The way Cambridge and Somerville border each other is confusing!

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  2. Interesting study demonstrating the success of traffic calming devices in Cambridge:

    http://www.ite.org/traffic/documents/AB00H3702.pdf

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  3. Do the parts where there are traffic lights work okay? I get the impression that its the yield zones that cause the most stress, and then having to negotiate the two types of traffic control while crossing. In an ideal scenario maybe there would be stop lights at all segments of the crossing that are controlled by the cross walk button.

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    1. The traffic light works fine; drivers proceed ignoring the lights.

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  4. Actually, in such a situation where a facility is associated with unacceptable motorist behavior, it is likely that some, possibly minor, factor is causing that behavior and that correcting that problem will make things much nicer. I only wish I could suggest what that minor correction needs to be. Speeding is the same way. Most people drive at what they think is a safe speed regardless of what the posted limit is. Plant trees along the road and make the lanes narrower and put a couple of joggles in the road and they drive slower. Add more paint and signs and provide run off zones and they drive faster.

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  5. Ask the city to install a HAWK signal. It is a signal used for cyclist and pedestrian safety at places like this, and is only active when someone needs to cross.

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  6. Would raised crossings (speed bumps) help?

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    1. Raised crossings have been installed in other parts of town, and I've noticed the same failure to yield. I think it is the driers' attitude more than anything, and lack of policing.

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  7. Last year the local police service had a summer blitz of tickets related to driver aggression towards cyclists and pedestrians. It actually seems to have helped quite a bit. When you have ticket traps set up in places like this two or three times a week, all summer long, it retrains drivers about what is acceptable or not.

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  8. Hard to see without knowing the road but I suspect the problem is high design speeds for the roads, encouraging drivers to behave like that. Alternatives could be a humped crossing to slow cars down, narrowing the approach to the crossing and making sure cars can't do sweeping turns, re-surfacing the offending road with bricks or cobbles to make it clear it's not a freeway, yield or stop signs at the point of the crossing, or just enforcing the hell out of the crossing until drivers get the message. 'Infrastructure' is a lot more than paint on the road and tracks - it's the whole thing.

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  9. I hear ya!! Cities try to retro-fit their streets to allow for bicycle traffic and it sometimes leads to messy connections and intersections. This morning while cycling into my city for coffee I noticed a police car parked at an intersection. The car was unoccupied and it was there the evening before.....My mind started to imagine a camera in the car recording the activity -- sorta a study to see if by parking a car at this particular spot it would improve the behavior of motorists...Or maybe to even encourage cyclists to stop when they're supposed to!

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  10. I find that a shopping cart works wonders, if you are walking. Just push it ahead of you, and if the car looks like they won't stop, let go of the cart and step back. Surprise! They stop. Nothing like expressing your intent clearly.

    I often pull a cart along from the further reaches of the parking lot when I go shopping, but I don't think that most drivers recognize that the cart will end up in their path if I stop, so that is not so useful. The other thing that works for me is a very fast dismount (easier on a "women's" bike, but I've gotten good at popping my leg up and over the top tube). "Hello, now I am a pedestrian."

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  11. Are the motorists driving in a legal fashion? otherwise tip of the policedepartment. Drivers getting fined or losing their license would probably make the motorists more careful. It may be better to say the drivers are almost hitting children and old ladies though.

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    1. Definitely not. It is illegal not to yield on crosswalks, and it is illegal to turn right on red if someone is crossing the street on a green light.

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  12. Red light cameras. As long as cities aren't shortening yellow lights to increase revenue, which can also result in a lot of last second stopping & rear end collisions, the cameras do a lot to increase compliance and safety. Financial incentives for not breaking the law do wonders for people behaving civilized.

    Raised sidewalks could have helped as well. But their durability on main thoroughfares when faced with seasonal plowing is dubious at best.

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  13. When I worked in London there was a similar problem with a pedestrian crossing outside work, drivers just didn't stop. A colleague was run over. When she returned to work she asserted her right of way by thrusting her metal Samsonite briefcase out into the road at windscreen height, on the end of the walking stick she now had to use. Traffic soon got the message

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  14. This is interesting: I usually think of Massachusetts as the only place I've ever been in the US where drivers actually yield to pedestrians. Is it different if you dismount and walk the bike? I'm not suggesting that that's a good thing to do; I'm just wondering if people (rightly) consider bikes to be something other than pedestrians here, and behave accordingly.

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    1. If I dismount to walk the bike it gets a little better - the cars drive toward me slower. But they still won't yield 2 out of 3 times, even though I have the green light to cross.

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  15. Two options: 1) Add lights (flashing yellow, or even a red light with a pedestrian/bike signal)
    2) Enforcement. Give out enough tickets, often enough, and people will stop.
    Both these options are expensive. Unfortunately, crossing a street/road monster like this is aways going to be difficult. Probably a traffic signal is necessary, if the traffic is that bad

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  16. My town has crosswalks sort of like that downtown, but drivers never yield to pedestrians. When i first moved here, I was driving down such a street, and stopped for a pedestrian at the crosswalk, only to have her give me a strange look as traffic continued through in the other lane. I've never understood what the point of these crosswalks is, if vehicles aren't required to yield.

    Interestingly, most the crosswalks on the nearby university campus have signs that explicitly state drivers must stop (not just yield) to pedestrians, so I don't know why downtown isn't treated the same way.

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  17. It's similar here in (this part of) the UK: Drivers yield to pedestrians & cyclists crossing the road only when it is absolutely compulsory, and even then pedestrians & crossing cyclists had best be ready to leap.

    Ås regards changing drivers' mentalities, I think you might struggle, but Godspeed. In countries where most motorists also cycle, there is hope for that, and indeed, cyclists are already treated as human beings in many parts of Europe.

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  18. I experience a similar problem trying to access our Greenway, the very popular bicycle path and promenade that runs along Manhattan's west side. Getting there requires crossing 11th and 12th Avenues, two multi-lane roads that run parellel to each other and are collectively known as the Westside Highway. Highway indeed! Drivers turn onto them at frightening speeds and rarely yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

    I raise my hand to say "stop," but this yields limited results. Crossing guards might help, but the city is unlikely to fund them and drivers probably would have limited respect for them too. I fear that flashing lights to illuminate the crosswalk would be of little use as well. Most effective, would probably be mechanical speed bumps that rise from the pavement when the crosswalk is active. The technology is there. These already exist in a slightly different form outside government buildings (to prevent truck bomb attacks). However, the method is expensive and I imagine most politicians wouldn't support it.

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  19. Vel said....
    " I cannot really think of a solution, but it's clear that something needs to change in the local drivers' mentalities in order for attempts to create decent, convenient infrastructure to be truly successful. The infrastructure itself is not always enough. "

    Unless someone get killed at these danger zones or the public raises serious hell about driver behavior nothing will change.

    Police enforcement of traffic laws will help but there needs to be a "in your face" public comment at city council meetings or nothing will change.

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    1. Sadly I agree. Police resources here are stretched, and we see violations like this everywhere including Harvard Square full of young students crossing streets. Short of a big scandal with deaths and media attention, I suspect things are unlikely to change.

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    2. It is said......"The squeaking wheel get the grease". This is your challenge.....how to become the squeaking wheel on this topic to cause the local gov't body to address the dangers you noted.

      Media attention (video's help a lot here) to document what you see and know to be happening along with fellow cyclist just raising serious hell about the danger these zones expose both rider and pedestrian to.

      Good luck and never give up.........

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  20. Entice the city to get a few days video of the intersection. When they see the problem they might add a light or a heavy law enforcement presence to tame the aggressive drivers.The city has an investment in the intersection so they must be interested in solving the problem.

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  21. Yeah, sometimes I wish there were a few cyclists (and pedestrians) as robust as Hancock:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yjZ_4oPkl0

    (from 0:21) That might scare motorists into yielding. However, absent superheros I see only three possibilities:

    (1) Educate the drivers.

    (2) Educate and empower the police to prosecute dangerous driving.

    (3) Rebuild crossings to make the right of way more obvious:

    http://mitkbh.dk/uploads/cba516cee268c188242e6c861d07012e.jpg

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  22. Whenever I use an intersection where I can't trust turning cars I walk the bike across, staying within the designated WALK markings and I faithfully obey the WALK signal.

    Even doing that I may indeed still be hit someday, but if or when I am there will be no dispute that I was a pedestrian and that I had the right of way.

    Probably will be of no comfort to me but at least the law will be firmly on my side.

    alf
    Davenport, Iowa

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  23. This is very interesting as obviously the infrstructure itself changing is not enough to change the drivers' perceptions of what is acceptable behaviour at this intersection. It also needs to be enforced, hopefully before anyone is seriously injured or killed. It is a bit like car dooring, where the driver is at fault, but here in Australia there is seldom a charge laid against the driver in such instances, even if the cyclist is killed. While this continues, there is little hope of the behaviour of drivers changing, at least in the short term.
    Vicki

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  24. The best advice I can think of,my friend,is use your wisdom every time you go through here,be very aware of your surroundings,and if some criminal...er...driver* puts you in harms way,do NOT hesitate to dial 911...you aren't "bothering them" or "wasting their time",that's what they're there for,it's their job. If enough cyclists make the calls to see that traffic laws get enforced,sooner or (hopefully rather than) later,something will be done about it.

    The Disabled Cyclist


    What's the definition of a criminal? Someone who knowingly breaks the law,right? If they didn't know it was illegal to drive the way they do (myself guilty on occassion,though I try to be a cyclist when driving too),they wouldn't stop doing it when they see a police car,now would they? ;) :P

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  25. Disappointing to read this.

    Failure to yield is so common in Chicago the first couple of visits to my sister's place in Nantucket I almost did not know what to do when drivers yielded for me where bike trails cross roads.

    Must be the more laid back 2nd home mindset.

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    1. Actually, it's the local mentality here. You'll notice that Nantucket has bike paths everywhere across the island. Bicycling is encouraged and drivers are (usually) respectful of not only pedestrians but bikers, too (no stop lights, so you are vigilant by necessity). If you stay and visit long enough you'll start to take it for granted..... until you try to bike offisland again!

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  26. I'm experiencing difficulty with the above. I can't figure out whether the complaint is with the specific piece of infrastructure itself or with motorist behavior in reacting to it. Or with (and I'm adding in here)a lack of supporting police enforcement/education to ease the motorists in to this huge change. Or (and I'm adding in here) with a lack of coverage by local mass media. It all gets circular.

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    1. I am simply saying that infrastructure is not enough, if motorists blatantly disobey the law and no one does anything about it.

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  27. I find similar issues with bicycle paths and infrastructure in Berkeley, or anywhere else for that matter. Though as I am in Berkeley now, it's rather annoying that this 'progressive' city is filled with 'progressive' people who don't give a care in the world for slowing down for cyclists.

    After reading Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt I am experimenting with 'not making eye contact'. I see if I have enough time to cross and if there is a motorist I will look away and cross (but of course keeping a look out of the corner of my eye– I would never cross blindly unless it were a very slow street). Often they yield better or in fact actually yield at all as opposed to the times where I make eye contact. If I make eye contact they seem more likely to speed through as they then think they can get me to stop for them if they scare me by speeding.

    As for this intersection, perhaps having a button for the path users to push that activates a green crossing phase immediately, allows one to cross this entire 4-piece intersection in one go while giving all the motor vehicle traffic an 'all red' signal phase. Other than that perhaps more clearly marking the requirement to yield or perhaps even adding stop signs (as motorists treat these better as yield signs than actual yield signs, at least that's the case in LA and the rest of California from my experience). Or perhaps a raised crossing so that 1) cyclists and other path users are on level entire time and 2) creating a vertical speed deflection for motorists that would require they slow down at this intersection regardless of the presence of path users. It's good practice to slow at an intersection anyway, and it would better reinforce the law– slow down and yield to pedestrians, cyclists and anyone else crossing in the crosswalk.

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    1. Your eye contact observation is an interesting one.

      The pedestrian buttons that show red lights to vehicular traffic immediately (or within a short period of time) are fantastic but uncommon because they cause delay to the motorist, which is unthinkable here, where "Car is King".

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  28. Not sure what your local laws are in Somerville, but round here, it is unlawful to ride a bike in a crosswalk anyway. Things may be different up there, or perhaps there is signage indicating an exception, due to the a large number of cyclists on the MUP. But, if such a thing were to appear in South Jersey, you could be cited for riding in a crosswalk, and a motorist who failed to yield to a cyclist in the crosswalk would technically not be doing anything illegal.

    What is the legal situation going on in this case?
    -rob

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  29. The crosswalk design described in this post sounds dangerous and ill considered.

    Where I live, a cyclist must dismount and walk through a crosswalk. If a cyclist rides through a crosswalk and is struck by a car, the cyclist and the motorist are considered equally responsible for the collision.

    For a driver making a legal and careful right- or left-hand turn over a crosswalk, it can be difficult to react in time and stop when a cyclist is riding through the crosswalk. That's because even a slow-moving bicycle is faster than a pedestrian. (A pedestrian can also quickly jump out of the way, but a mounted cyclist has fewer options.)

    The practice of dismounting to go through a crosswalk was taught as basic safe-cycling behavior in the LAB class I took when I started cycling again as an adult.

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  30. http://www.kvoa.com/player/?video_id=9143

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  31. I think it's best to avoid this crosswalk entirely while going in Somerville->Arlington direction by continuing on a street crossing Mass Ave and making an immediate right, which puts you back on the path again, without ambiguous right of way situations.

    However, going back (Arlington->Somerville) there is no such option because of one way streets, so the "best" choice becomes waiting to turn left from Mass Ave while holding up the left lane of Mass Ave traffic (or let them squeeze past you).

    I haven't been this way more than a few times since construction was finished, but from what I've seen it's best to stop thinking of that whole system as a bicycle intersection and ignore it entirely. It's just not safe unless you're walking AND willing to wait several stoplight cycles.

    There is another one of these situations later in Arlington, also a Mass Ave crossing, and I think it is also best negotiated in traffic.

    I guess my point is: if the city can't make the cycle path uninterrupted and the path has to cross a major intersection or square, then please don't run the path into a pedestrian crossing but merge it with cars for the duration of the crossing instead. I think that's better for all but the least experienced of cyclists.

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  32. This is one situation I'm not opposed to traffic cameras - like the ones mounted at stop lights at intersections. Go through it wrong and you could get a ticket in the mail from Texas.

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  33. Here's an aerial map of the intersection (which predates the new crossing, which is roughly where the "A" pin is on the following google map:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=cedar+street+and+massachusetts+avenue+cambridge&ll=42.397745,-71.130786&spn=0.000817,0.00142&client=safari&oe=UTF-8&hnear=Massachusetts+Ave+%26+Cedar+St,+Cambridge,+Middlesex,+Massachusetts+02140&gl=us&t=k&z=20

    Mass Ave runs diagonally, NW-SE, while the path runs perfectly W-E (outlined by trees). Notice that the crossing must cross not only Mass Ave but also Cedar street.

    As you can see, Cedar street runs off Mass Ave at a 45 degree angle. Cars turning onto Cedar from Mass Ave Eastbound don't see cyclists or pedestrians to their right. As I mentioned earlier, drivers have the green arrow, and pedestrians have a walk single, simultaneously. Both think they are clear to proceed.

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  34. This section is in Cambridge and I will pass your notes on to the appropriate folks. I am not sure the typical protocol in this instance, but I would imagine observation would be done first before any changes are looked at.
    Thanks
    John

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  35. This sounds to me more like an issue of enforcement/culture more than infrastructure. Was this crossing installedby the city where it is located, or by the State against the town's wishes? It's about 20 years since I lived in Somerville and Cambridge, so I don't know if this intersection is in Somerville or Cambridge (1st comment). At the time, police in neither town did much traffic enforcement.

    My understanding is that the Somerville Traffic Regulations contradict state law and state that bicyclists are restricted to bike lanes when present and are at fault if they are right hooked (Article VIII Section 13-7). Even if Somerville isn't allowed to enforce this, by keeping it in several updated revisions to the code Somerville seems to be sending a strong message that they have no intention of protecting the rights of anyone that interferes with motoritsts.

    When I lived in Cambridge, one of the worst intersections for accidents was Memorial Drive and Boylston/JFK at the bridge into Allston. When pedestrians had walk lights, drivers knew all the other drivers had red lights, so there were collisions between multiple motorists running red lights. Pedestrians put no faith in the walk light.

    Erin B – where do police ticket motorists for aggressive behavior to pedestrians?

    Intense enforcement is usually the only reliable way to change motorist behavior, but this is unlikely to happen anytime soon if the city considers pedestrians and trail users to be obstructions to real traffic.

    Angelo Dolce

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  36. Both Cambridge and Somerville have been very aggressively installing bike facilities, to the point where their benefit is questionable: oftentimes too little research is done before creating new facilities that they often get poorly implemented. Velouria commented on one such example outside Harvard Square, in an earlier blog post.

    I'm not sure about the Mass Ave crossing, but it may have been a state project since Mass Ave is a main artery bringing motorists from many other towns through Cambridge. Being a state project may have complicated matters, or forced a compromise that ended up being the failure that it is. I really don't know the history of the project or any of the politics behind it.

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  37. What is the nature of the signage or signals for the motorists? Are there old fashioned yield signs, or are there the new types? I remember reading something that said that motorists fail to observe the old signs over 90% of the time, while the new signs are only observed a little more often than 50%.

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    1. Motorists have a red light; the pedestrians have a green light. But sometimes motorists proceed despite this.

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  38. I think there are several intersection in Cambridge where cars have a green turn arrow simultaneously with pedestrians having a walk light to cross the same street. Both parties think they have the right of way. One other such example is in Inman square by the firehouse.

    I didn't believe until I saw it. What is the logic behind something like this?

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    1. Jesus, what?? That must be why I nearly got hit by a car crossing on green in Inman the other day.

      But I don't think that's the case in the intersection shown in this post; pretty sure motorists have a red light.

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    2. I think Somervillain is saying that indeed the green turn arrow and walk signal are happening simultaneously in this Mass Ave crossing example (the far street in the 2nd picture).

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  39. I was wondering if that unsignalized raised crossing on Cameron Ave was working well (i.e. if motorists were yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists). Now I know they are not.

    I think what would help is some sort of signage for motorists turning off of Mass Ave onto Cameron that there is a path crossing and that they should yield to pedestrians and bicyclists. I think many motorists simply don't know to expect that crossing to be there.

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  40. Jesus, what?? That must be why I nearly got hit by a car crossing on green in Inman the other day.

    But I don't think that's the case in the intersection shown in this post; pretty sure motorists have a red light.


    Velouria, this was exactly my point earlier-- in this case the traffic turning onto Cedar gets a green arrow while pedestrians get a walk signal. Only traffic staying straight on Mass Ave gets a red while pedestrians get a walk. It's Cedar street that's complicating the whole scenario.

    I was wondering if that unsignalized raised crossing on Cameron Ave was working well (i.e. if motorists were yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists). Now I know they are not.

    Yes, it works quite well, as do almost all the raised crossings throughout Cambridge and Somerville. They're much more effective than painted crosswalks. See the study I linked to in an earlier comment.

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    1. Sorry, that didn't sink in right away.

      Okay, that is shocking in itself. But while it might be the case from one direction, it does not account for all the non-yield instances I've experienced. I have seen cars proceeding on what for them was a red light - including (at least twice) proceeding straight on Mass Ave and blowing that red light. FWIW you know how on Beacon St toward Porter Sq there is a traffic light on the corner with Kent & Museum Streets? Cars blow that light on red all the time; just blatantly keep driving on red despite the crosswalk and the clear signal. I have seen similar at the intersection described in this post.

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  41. For an interesting new perspective, switch back to being a driver for a while. I think that if one obeys traffic rules oneself (as either a pedestrian, driver, or cyclist) one assumes--and in Massachusetts it is a wholly fallacious assumption--that others in one's situation are doing the same.

    Newsflash: there are as many cyclists as motorists who are scofflaws. And pedestrians if you ever happen to observe the financial area in downtown Boston near the South Station T exit. The difference is that the consequences differ if an accident occurs. When I drive, I have seen truly astonishing behaviour (deathwish, anyone?) from cylists who run red lights, turn into a lane of legally proceeding traffic and madly weave between lanes. There is equally egregious behaviour from drivers, though their actions tend towards the homicidal rather than suicidal.

    I think there is a culture of poor observance of traffic regulations by all parties in MA and a need for far less tolerance of traffic violations. It is a ratehr unpleasant road culture.

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    1. Nobody is saying that drivers have sole responsibility in this situation. The intersection is a death trap. Visibility is worse from inside the car than on a bike, and in many situations motorists may be overdriving their reaction time and going on an assumption that nobody will be in their path because they have a right of way. This is exactly why having a green turn arrow and walk signal together is so dangerous, particularly at a blind corner. How this situation remains in place, I do not know.

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  42. I think what would help is some sort of signage for motorists turning off of Mass Ave onto Cameron that there is a path crossing and that they should yield to pedestrians and bicyclists. I think many motorists simply don't know to expect that crossing to be there.

    The problem isn't so much traffic turning onto Cameron, it's traffic turning onto Cedar street, before Cameron.

    And if I may respectfully add, IMO it really only makes sense to speculate about this particular intersection if you're familiar with it. Just sayin...

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  43. 1. Shoot the offenders with your camera phone. Make sure you get the license plate.
    2. Tip off the police with any documentation. Check out Somervillain's assertion, if he's right, tip off your DOT and cc police with the DOT complaint and vice versa.
    3. In the mean time, pretend you are in Florence. On a good day.

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  44. This is the kind of reason why I'm sceptical about the idea of separate infrastructure for cyclists. However pleasant the separate bits are, the intersections become more dangerous for cyclists than negotiating them alongside the cars (this even happens in Copenhagen, where 37 per cent of journeys to work and education are by bike). Cyclists using separate infrastructure are out of motorists' sight lines.
    There are also multiple cultural issues, however, about motorists' reluctance to cede road space to cyclists. I recently blogged about them here: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/02/bikes-can-be-hard-to-overtake.html
    I hope you find a way of making your intersection safer, however. It does sound frustrating.
    Invisible
    http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/

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  45. There are many answers to road safety for bicyclist and many creative endeavors have been applied that fall short time and again. What has not been tried is to reduce speed limits for automobiles. Controversial in America when we rather suffer through 1,000,000 traffic deaths or about 100 per day over the past 30 years. Policy to reduce city speeds to 20 mph won't win a popularity vote any time soon so there you have it. Only you can cover your backside. domotion2011

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    1. They are planning 20MPH limits in parts of NYC. Many communities are applying for it. Hopefully it takes off.

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  46. As an FYI. This was a state DOT project where Cambridge was simply involved. I have passed this along.

    In regards to the turning while walk signal, typically in Cambridge drivers and pedestrians get the same green if going in the same direction with the pedestrians getting a 3-5 second head start, unless it says no right turn (no instance I cant think of other than one-way) drivers can turn right but must yield to pedestrians, because of the advance it is more likely that drivers will yield and pedestrians will get across the intersection.

    Now if the drivers have a right turn arrow and pedestrians have a walk there is the confusion on right-of-way but I am fairly certain pedestrian still has it. I also do not know of any instance where this is the case...

    In regards to the intersection, with this amount of non compliance it does seem the infrastructure may be the problem, I would personally say to cut Cedar off at the intersection with Mass ave and only allow bikes/peds.

    This would make Cedar north of Harvey a dead end and in theory might solve the problem especially if it seems turning traffic from Mass ave onto Cedar is the main problem... That is just me though.

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  47. Need to do away with Right Turn on Red, too many motorists treat is as a rolling stop regardless if there are pedestrians or not. I have had more than one altercation with a motorist rolling the red while I was in the crosswalks. The last one has a large dent in the passenger side door of his Escalade where I planted a steel toe work boot. He wanted a fight but backed down when he saw several people with cellphone cameras videotaping the incident. FWIW it was on a college campus where pedestrians have walk signs that turn 15 seconds prior to the lights changing. But he figured he would just bully his way through, he thought wrong, my Irish temper got the better of me.

    From the descriptions this appears to be a very poorly designed or controlled intersection.

    Aaron

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  48. The few times I've ridden through that intersection I was on my way to the Minuteman Bikeway. I've found that it's faster, safer and easier to just ride directly to the Minuteman via Broadway and Mass ave.

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  49. A few above have mentioned this as well, but your closing quote pretty much says it all:

    "....it's clear that something needs to change in the local drivers' mentalities in order for attempts to create decent, convenient infrastructure to be truly successful. The infrastructure itself is not always enough."

    This is the main thing that bugs me about the "separate at all costs" philosophy. There seems to be little acknowledgment that without better attitudes from motorists--or at least stronger legal protection for cyclists/peds, all the segregat...er, SEPARation in the world won't really make things safer.

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