Traffic patterns ignored in pedestrian planning

July 24, 2009
By

The following letter was sent to the Department of Conservation and Recreation in response to a call for opinions on proposed Jamaicaway crossings [JP Gazette, July 10]. My concern was that insufficient attention had been paid to prevailing traffic conditions, however much pedestrians may benefit.

At Eliot Street, the stated “cons” to the proposal include, for vehicular traffic, increased rear-enders and queuing. I should think! Left unmentioned or unacknowledged is the worst problem on the whole Jamai-caway. As traffic approaches Eliot Street from the south barely a block before the proposed crossing, the three northbound lanes expand to become two to the left and two straight ahead to the Jamaicaway—with no warning signs and with highly ambiguous lane markings on the pavement. Traffic at that point often becomes confused and vehicles will nudge other vehicles away in order to squeeze into a proper travel lane. And then, while drivers are looking sideways at each other, they are now to encounter a (new) pedestrian cross-ing and/or queuing cars just ahead? What will the result surely be? More accidents!

At the Parkman Street terminus, the proposal to eliminate a right-hand westbound lane might well be dangerous; observation shows that vehicles intending a right turn do, in fact, use that lane to remove them-selves from the rotary traffic. Isn’t this desirable? Keeping them in the main rotary traffic will only cause confusion and congestion.

As for the stated intention to slow traffic down, may I suggest that this only causes frustration to drivers, with consequent misfortune? I often point to the signs on the highway after it emerges southbound from the rotary as the most disheartening and counterproductive ever seen: “Signals timed to require fre-quent stops.” Where’s the benefit in that?

If only these proposals could be ventured temporarily, experimentally, to gauge their actual effects, elements that at this stage are entirely speculative could be confirmed or denied.

Clark Johnsen
Jamaica Plain