New sign adds insult to injury

October 7, 2010
By

 For years, I have lodged formal complaints about the danger that exists in the crosswalk on the Arborway near the main entrance to the Arboretum. Anyone who has ever used that crosswalk likely knows what I am talking about. The crosswalk as it crosses the Arborway is relatively safe, managed by a responsive pedestrian-controlled traffic light. The extension of the crosswalk that goes across the access road that runs parallel to the Arborway, however, is not controlled by the light. It is clearly marked as a pedestrian crosswalk by two white lines, but, despite this, motorists, more often than not, race right through the crosswalk without hesitation. This is especially true during rush hour, when motorists use the access road as a way to avoid traffic.

This crosswalk is particularly dangerous because the “walk” light indicates to pedestrians it is safe to cross—but motorists on the access road are not subject to the light. Driver aggression at this location is intense. I have had cars swerve around me more than once, crossing the double yellow line in an effort to keep going, some screaming at me as they speed by.

Over the years, my complaints have been met with claims that the issue is being studied, and that installing an extension of the current “Walk/Don’t Walk” light to include the parallel road is too expensive. My frustration grows, thinking that there are so many simple solutions, and tensely awaiting the event that will likely turn the situation around.

Last summer, I thought the issue had come to a head. A pedestrian was hit by a car there and injured enough to be taken away in an ambulance. Apparently, the injury suffered was not serious enough, because still nothing was done.

That is, until a few weeks ago. But the effort made is nothing short of insulting. The words “Look Both Ways” have been painted in large white letters on both sidewalks. These are warnings to the pedestrians! This is how I read this warning: “Sorry, you legally-crossing-the-street pedestrians, you are being put on notice to watch for reckless drivers who break the law, don’t yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and who are being tolerated and allowed to continue this behavior.” Even this “warning” will not be effective when covered in leaves or snow.

Couldn’t the level of effort and cost associated with this “remedy” have been better and more appropriately spent by placing a stop sign at the crosswalk—or even a relatively inexpensive yellow plastic barrel with a sign that reads, “Stop. Always Yield to Pedestrians,” in the middle of the road like these that are effectively used in Brookline and several JP locations.

I remain anxious that the only time officials will ever do anything to effectively address this issue and direct their efforts at the motorists, will be after someone sustains a fatal injury. I sure hope not.

Carl Frappaolo
Jamaica Plain