Hank Investigates: Crosswalk Confusion

BOSTON (WHDH) - This may be the most confusing and chaotic intersection in Boston.

Pedestrian, “It is awful.”

Where Merrimack Street runs into Staniford Street in the West End near Causeway Street and TD Garden.

Pedestrian: “Why is this crosswalk such a disaster?”

Signs and directions are so conflicting and so misunderstood they force everyone on foot and on wheels to make risky decisions.

Pedestrian: “I was never a jaywalker until I moved to Boston.”
Look: Pedestrians get their walk light, but just a few seconds later the left-turning drivers get their green light! That puts them all in the same place at the same time.

Pedestrian: “You can’t turn!”

Pedestrian: “I was this close to having someone hit me yesterday.”

And here drivers use the brand new bicycle lane, forcing those on bikes to use the car lane.

Brendan Kearney, WalkBoston: “It’s pretty dangerous.”

And watch this, look at all these drivers zooming right on a red arrow—city officials say you can’t do that! But car after car powers through without stopping.

And woe to those who try to obey the law…

Brendan Kearney: “Let’s see how long it is before people start honking their horns for the right turn… Ah, there we go.”

Driver peer pressure forces them to break it.

What’s going on? Our investigation of this irritating intersection is one part of a new federally-funded project. One that makes it easier to get around Boston including cool new bicycle lanes. But when we hung out with traffic experts there, they told us frankly… It’s not working so well.

Professor Peter Furth, Civil Engineer, Northeastern University: “The lack of guidance that both drivers and pedestrians have is making a lot of people feel nervous.”

But here’s the deal, city traffic officials promise this tangle is a work in progress.

Don Burgess, Boston Transportation Department: “We’ve been tweaking it we’ve been adjusting things…”

Up in the city’s traffic control center, they’re monitoring the intersection to figure out the best way to make it work safely and efficiently for those on foot or on wheels.

Don Burgess: “Were trying to balance it all out the best we can.”

And when we told them how many drivers we’d taped zooming illegally right on that red arrow the city decided: Those days are about to be over, they’re making it no turn on red.

Don Burgess: “The sign will go up and that will take care of that.”
Hank: “So you’re going to change that?”
Don Burgess: “That will get fixed.”

Meanwhile the city says be careful…and be patient.

Don Burgess: “It will get better, there’s no question it will.”

Do you have an intersection you think is annoying? Or unsafe? Let us know—email me at Tellhank@whdh.com

The city is also working to give pedestrians more time to get across the street, and they remind drivers those on foot have the right of way.

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