Driving in Boston

Driving around Greater Boston is a much bigger pain in the ass than driving around California, for a bunch of reasons:

  • The streets are generally narrower, since many of the roads predate automobiles.
  • People park on the streets, even though they’re generally narrower, making the streets functionally even narrower. Many streets allow parking even though they don’t have a dedicated parking lane.
  • People get out of cars and just amble across the street without looking, usually without caring whether they’re jaywalking.
  • Pedestrians suddenly appear from behind parked cars, waiting for a space to jaywalk across the road.
  • Turn lanes usually aren’t marked until you’re actually in the lane, whereas most turn lanes in California are marked ahead of time, or at least on signs attached to traffic signals so you can see them from a distance. Consequently you often find yourself in the wrong lane because there was no way to tell you were heading into a turn lane until it’s too late.
  • Drivers give you approximately 1/5 of a second to go after a green light before honking at you. Personally this motivates me to drive slowly.

My strategy for driving in Boston is just to be patient and not let other drivers (or pedestrians) get to me. If they’re impatient, well, that’s their problem.

The only bright spot, really, is that Massachusetts has been on a long-term campaign to make drivers aware that they must stop for a pedestrians in crosswalks, and most drivers obey this law. This makes it a little easier to be a pedestrian than in years past.

I’m still not sure why they haven’t just added more lanes to Route 128 yet, though. They’ve been doing construction on it seemingly in perpetuity, so you’d like they could make the most obvious improvement to it.

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