Another driving distraction

Several weeks ago a woman was knocked off a speed table and died in a low speed accident. It was the first traffic death in Belmont since 2009 so town officials had to be seen doing something. Guess what local politicians want to do?

If you guessed throw some money at the problem you’re right but that’s not the answer I’m looking for. They’re going to hire a consultant to look for a reason to add a traffic signal. I doubt there will be as much cheating as when a town demands an unwarranted stop sign. A signal costs over $175,000. If it isn’t needed it might not get the money.

They’re also going to ask Google to delete most of Belmont from Waze. And they’re going to set up a web site for residents to complain about cars. One town politician said in the past the traffic committee “was about getting cars from A to B.” Now its mission is to obstruct traffic. If the complaint process is like the one in Newton it won’t allow drivers to express their opinion.

There was a public meeting. At traffic meetings you have to sort truth from fiction. In the latter category I’d put the claim that trucks are going down Lexington Street at 50 or 60 miles per hour. No, they aren’t. They aren’t going 40 either. I doubt they even hit 30 since the stop signs were posted a block away. Stop signs increase midblock speeds for cars, but the block isn’t long enough truck drivers to get going fast. These meetings tend to be full of unsupported complaints about high speed traffic. If town officials want the truth (they often don’t) they’ll have to measure.

There was a legitimate complaint about slow speed traffic. Residents observed that when cars slow down for the speed bump, it seems like they’re slowing to let you go in front. Often they don’t see you until you go. It’s the same phenomenon I’ve observed around many traffic obstruction devices, including that speed table. When you turn a steady flow into an unsteady flow, people are more confused.

When I’m driving down Lexington Street towards Sycamore I’ve got to watch three streams of potentially conflicting traffic, four crosswalks, a speed bump, and traffic ahead of me that might stop for a red light a short block away.

If I pull out from the side I have to watch all that and figure out if that car is slowing for me no slowing for the bump no wait it’s a space for me get ready go pedestrian! stop now go maybe.

At this intersection drivers go slowly because of the speed bump and there are accidents because the area is busy. My commentary about the accident concluded, “we need to stop confusing people.” So what is the town going to do? Add a speed feedback sign to distract drivers some more.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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