Like it or not, certain locations have stereotypical reputations. New Yorkers are rude. Texans are loud. And Boston drivers….well, let’s just say you wouldn’t want your grandma to be caught driving there during morning rush hour. Real or not, Boston drivers surely have one of the worst reputations in the country. All you have to do is call someone a “Boston Driver” and they immediately understand you’re accusing them of being aggressive and heavy on the gas pedal.
Well the Boston city council has had enough and is aiming to do something about it. Earlier this week, council member Matt O’Malley, unanimously backed by the other city council members, called on the city to take a serious look at traffic calming measures. Over the next several weeks, local and state traffic law enforcement agencies will be getting together with a variety of Boston organizations and local residents to discuss preferred methods for slowing speeding drivers.
O’Malley said that all traffic calming options were on the table so long as they do not interfere with emergency response vehicles – a critical stipulation that will, according to a variety of recently published reports, reduce the options available in many locations.
Speed Cushions, speed bumps, and even things like rumble strips and median islands have been shown to be inhospitable to fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. Other preliminary suggestions such as public awareness campaigns and warning signs have proven, in many cases, to be ineffective. O’Malley said he was even open to the idea of installing speed cameras, but if he hopes to be re-elected, he may want to review the mounting body of news articles showing residential outrage over such automated revenue-generating tactics.
Of course, we here at Traffic Calming Matters are partial to the use of radar speed signs in many locations. That’s because (a) they do not impede emergency vehicles (b) they do not necessary result in ticket issuing and (c) they are proven again and again to be highly effective – particularly around school zones, work zones and other locations where pedestrian safety is of particular concern.
The reason they are so effective as that radar speed signs work by refocusing the attention of distracted drivers back on to the job at hand – driving safely. As O’Malley points out, most drivers (even in Boston) are good drivers. Research suggests that it only requires the type of reminders that radar speed signs provide to get these drivers back in focus.
In his statement to the press, O’Malley noted that there have been numerous studies done of late that look at methods used in other major cities to “balance and protect the safety of livability of residential neighborhoods with emergency service needs.” So, if they do their homework and look at the evidence provided by these types of studies, you can be assured that there will be a lot more radar speed signs in Boston’s future.