Why This Blog? Then Again Why Not?
As the name suggests, this blog is about experiences of driving in Boston. Here are observations of what happens on the streets of Boston, what drivers and pedestrians do on these crazy streets. There are many questions and sometimes answers.
It could be said that these observations are about Boston's mobile culture. A concrete geography jam packed with people, cars and roads that often take you away from where you are trying to go.
As far as I can tell Boston has been a difficult place to drive long before I came here decades ago. This is about those natives and from other lands who mostly from necessity have had to drive here.
Much has already been written about the Boston Driver and Boston's seemingly illogical streets, street signs - if they exist - and the manner in which one competes for lane, speed or parking advantage.
I am hopeful that those reading this blog will find it useful - either informative or entertaining. Perhaps it will lead to an understanding of why people do what they do here. There should be no expectation that this blog will somehow lead to an improvement in anything - the way people drive, the signage, the streets themselves - really anything about the experience of driving in Boston.
My first Boston experience was Eastbound Exit 17 off Mass Pike. This puts you in the middle of a massive roundabout surrounded by drivers who know how to deal, and you don't. Pity the newcomer. Then on to the Watertown Square Rotary circa 1970s. Pure automotive chaos combined with the most obnoxious drivers a Midwesterner could imagine.
You learn: To ignore is to intimidate. When entering a rotary, an experienced driver will never look at you, never make eye contact. But maybe look at your fender and its velocity. Making eye contact could be taken as a sign of weakness. Yielding is a sign of weakness, passivity. Vehicles are simply large aggressive projectiles - speeding and changing unmarked lanes.
An experienced Boston Driver will capture sufficient projectile information to determine how and when to cut them competitors. He who hesitates is lost.
I feel sorry for those unfamiliar knaves who inevitably panic, freakout. You can always see them stopped just past the Exit Ramp on which escape could have happened. They're often willing to back up hoping that their Emergency Lights will offer sufficient warning of Idiot or Foreigner On Board.
What may emerge from this may be suggestions for those that assume responsibility for managing the experience - mostly the city, town and state government traffic mavens.
Prior to the Great Contagion of 2020, Boston was the worst city in America to drive in.
In February 2019, Forbes Magazine noted that Boston achieved the distinction of having the worst traffic in the country. "So you think the traffic is bad where you live? Try moving to Boston, where commuters suffer the worst highway congestion in the nation INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, with average annual time spent in traffic and the average cost of congestion per motorist:
Boston, MA: 164 hours ($2,291)Washington, DC: 155 hours ($2,161)Chicago, IL: 138 hours ($1,920)New York City, NY: 133 hours ($1,859)Los Angeles, CA: 128 hours ($1,788).
On an international basis Boston is distinct in that it is the only American city in the top 10 ranked 8th, behind some notable cities such as Moscow, Mexico City and London but ahead of or worse than Rome. I've come to believe that if you can drive in Boston you can drive in Rome and Paris. And its true!
Most of these 'cities-with-the-worst-traffic' rankings basis their awards on hours and money lost due to congestion. But that only tells part of the story. Because while time and money wasted on Boston's streets and highways rankle drivers, the convoluted, ill logical, poorly marked, overcrowded, rut infested roads inspire an aggressive madness called the Boston Driver. More on that later.
So as to the question: How did this happen? Well, the answer or answers should be obvious and will be addressed elsewhere. Please read on.