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Citizen complaint of the day: Who decided to jam up Ukraine Way?

An outraged citizen files a 311 complaint about the new "No Turn on Red" signs on Boston's shortest street, Ukraine Way, which connects Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street at Forest Hills:

The "no turn on red" in both sides of Ukraine is a disaster! Who thought that was a good idea? It is creating traffic

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Comments

The ones who don't want to be hit by cars, which increase by 60% if rights on red are allowed. (Or maybe people riding bikes: crash rates up 100% with right-on-red.)

Fun fact: there was no right on red nationwide until the gas crisis in the 1970s. Maybe with electric cars we'll go back to no right on red, since they won't burn any extra gas.

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with these types of crashes at this location? Or are people presuming that these types of crashes will automatically go down because there's now RTOR here?

Putting in restrictive traffic controls at locations where drivers don't perceive a need for them only breeds disregard for those devices not only at the specific location, but at other locations where they are justified.as well.

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Just my own perspective from having to cross that intersection on foot every day back when I had a commute to work (and, more recently, trying to cross it while running at various times of day): Without the NTOR sign where Ukraine and HPA meet, it was extremely treacherous to try to cross Ukraine at that intersection, even with the walk sign. People coming from Washington St would speed down the short stretch on Ukraine and turn right onto HPA without so much as slowing down. Same with drivers coming up HPA and turning right onto Ukraine - when there wasn't traffic backing up the entirety of Ukraine (something that happens frequently because it's such a short street), they would speed up to make the turn without much regard for anyone in the crosswalk. I actually changed my walking route to only have to cross HPA because I had too many close calls with the crosswalk on Ukraine and didn't want to put my life in danger every morning at 6am. So I appreciate the new signage a lot...now the trick is going to be getting people to respect it (or not honk aggressively at those in front of them who are following the new NTOR guidance).

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I cycle through here daily and I’d say it was definitely a problem. Although, my personal ire is more drawn by the turn signals coinciding with pedestrian crossings at the intersection of the Arborway and Washington. I’ve seen way more near-accidents there.

But the number of close calls I’ve had from cars turning right, most not signaling, made this a very dangerous intersection as a cyclist and as a pedestrian. The pedestrian signal here is very short and cars were pushing turns both ways through the intersection making it difficult and dangerous to cross.

As a cyclist, it doesn’t help that it’s on the top of a long hill and that the right lane is both a turning lane and a through lane. I would typically allow all traffic in the right lane to pass before proceeding through the intersection on green. Sadly this was much to the ire of less confident drivers who did not feel comfortable passing me even with one foot on the curb and taking up maybe 12” of road waiting to safely proceed.

The whole area needs some work to better balance the needs of everyone.

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is entitled drivers who don't realize the consequences of their making a mistake, rather than the traffic controls.

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Someone already commented as a pedestrian, which I am (or was) for a few years at the intersection. Drivers coming from Washington Street to Hyde Park Ave very much ignore both the "stop" and "when it is clear" part of the idea of being able to take a right turn on red. It's not that every car that travels that way ignore what one is supposed to do, but enough that it is an issue. Not good for pedestrians. Not good for cars who have the green light, either.

Conversely, I can see how this could jam up traffic on the bridge and cause gridlock on the Washington Street side. That side is a completely different mix, but drivers are by and large better with respecting the right on red rules at the Washington Street light.

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Drivers need this restriction at that location. Go see for yourself.

Given the pedestrian traffic in the area, it should have the nastiest speed bumps around limiting speed to 20 mph. Like the ones Somerville put in on Powderhouse.

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where drivers don't perceive a need for them

You mean, like, literally anywhere?

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In answer to your snotty question,
more than one particular problem exists at this crossing. The comments above pretty much cover them all.

“where drivers don’t perceive a need”

Spare me, please! You are joking, right?

I’ve been nearly crashed into several times at this intersection while on foot, on my bike and a few times behind the wheel. Not being actually physically struck by a driver doesn’t mean no harm was done. This happens more frequently than crashes.

Another issue is the lack of signaling here on the part of many drivers. It’s as if it’s a badge of pride for some not to use the blinker.

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On the Washington Street side of the bridge, this was the first place where I saw the traffic light system wherein the turning traffic gets a green arrow, then a red arrow (after the yellow period,) then, after a few seconds, a flashing yellow arrow meaning yes, you can turn, but yield to the traffic going straight. That's how bad the driving is around there, and yes, drivers still ran the red arrow.

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a flashing yellow arrow meaning yes, you can turn, but yield to the traffic going straight. That's how bad the driving is around there, and yes, drivers still ran the red arrow.

I believe that's the new national standard for signaling, unrelated to problems at any specific intersection.

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Concurrent lights or whatever are also treacherous. I've almost been mowed down several times when I had the walk sign walking up Washington St across the Arborway. Drivers have a green turn signal and pedestrians have the walk sign...formula for disaster.

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which is absolutely ridiculous. If a car and a pedestrian are both allowed to go straight through the intersection, why not the bike rider, whose lane is in between the other road users?

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They should do away with green lights sending traffic into areas where pedestrians have the walk signal. The safer way to do this would be to replace the green with a blinking yellow light - signaling to drivers "proceed with caution". Green means "GO" and should be be reserved for situations where oncoming traffic and pedestrians aren't a concern.

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Concurrent lights or whatever are also treacherous. I've almost been mowed down several times when I had the walk sign walking up Washington St across the Arborway. Drivers have a green turn signal and pedestrians have the walk sign...formula for disaster.

If drivers literally have a green turn signal at the same time that pedestrians have a walk signal across the same street, that sounds like a signal programming error that should be corrected (but won't).

If you're talking about the more typical arrangement, where traffic and pedestrians going in the same direction have a green/walk signal at the same time, and turning traffic is expected to yield to pedestrians crossing the street, that setup is standard across the country and in many European countries as well. The fact that it doesn't work in Boston is because Boston drivers are assholes and know that there are no repercussions for breaking the law, even if they injure someone.

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turning traffic is expected to yield to pedestrians crossing the street, that setup is standard across the country and in many European countries as well.

Germany does it right. I've been to Germany several times and have taken note on my last few trips. Virtually every intersection I've seen in at least ten of its states conforms to the same standard, with some variations as to placement and setting, such as the green arrow sign that allows a right on red after a stop. Beg buttons aren't a thing (though some poles have a yellow device that looks like a beg button, but that's a vibrating walk signal to assist the blind, one places their hand on it and when the walk signal activates, it vibrates) because actual pedestrian patterns and needs taken into account, instead of pedestrian accommodations being a sloppy afterthought like here, a straight ahead green almost always equals a green Ampelmann. Right turns on red are rare and are governed by a green arrow sign that allows a right on red after a stop. Because concurrent walk signals are the standard pretty much everywhere nationwide (I've never seen an exclusive walk phase, but they may exist, I just wasn't looking), German drivers are also conditioned to expect pedestrians when turning and to yield for them, instead of the hodgepodge of settings found here that render most pedestrian signals meaningless and, if anything, probably discourage walking and make it more dangerous.

Other things they do in Germany (and other European countries -what I've seen in Greece is virtually identical to what I've seen in Germany) that take pedestrian needs into account is place traffic lights only on the nearside of the intersection between the stop line and crosswalk in order to prevent crosswalk blocking, and the wayside signals are placed lower on the pole so that the driver's line of sight is focused on the nearby surroundings instead on a signal 20 meters away and five meters above the other side of the intersection.

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Yeah, the whole loop around Forest Hills Station is basically an unofficial NASCAR track. Anything that stops drivers from whipping around the corners so people can walk across the street without risking their lives if fine by me.

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Or may contribute to it. I was nearly hit by two cars as I was crossing Arlington St at Tremont St (by the Animal Rescue League) yesterday by two drivers who figured the NTOR sign didn't apply to them and ran the red light by turning on red (the second driver didn't even bother to stop). I was coming from the right, they were looking left for conflicting auto traffic and ignoring myself and several other pedestrians crossing from the drivers' right. If red just meant red and NTOR was the default there would probably be more uniform enforcement and more uniform compliance by drivers. If a traffic enforcement officer on a cross street sees someone turn on red, they'll probably assume that right on red is allowed and not bother to look for a sign, but if no turn on red becomes the default, they'll probably be more likely to assume at first it's like any other red light runner and look for a sign before taking action. And in fairness to some drivers, another problem is a complete lack of standards as to sign placement (not to mention signal placement itself, which is usually done very poorly in Boston, and is done in a manner that actually endangers pedestrians, but that's a completely different matter). In some places, the NTOR sign is nowhere near the signal, sometimes it's on a pole offset from the signal, sometimes it's in close proximity to the light, and sometimes it's even before the stop line, so if someone's at the line, it's not in view. No turn on red is the standard in most of the world, with some exceptions carved out, or example, in Germany it's allowed if there's no conflict with a crosswalk or any other lane of traffic and if there's a little green arrow sign mounted directly to the right of the red light indicating that right on red is allowed after a stop. In France, a yellow arrow light appears when it's okay to make a turn on red, after yielding to all other traffic. Public safety shouldn't be compromised for the sake of convenience for some drivers.

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I go through that intersection frequently on bike, walking, on the bus and behind the wheel. It’s like a staging ground for a gladiator free for all.

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Another fun fact! The studies that they used to show that right on red did not significantly increase pedestrian collisions did not have big enough sample sizes (statistically underpowered), so they gave "right on red" the green light based on faulty research methods.

I use this example when teaching about statistics to show how insufficient sample sizes can have long term negative results when people draw the wrong conclusions.

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...so less pedestrians are struck mere steps from a major transit hub.

Even with the no turn on red (which is flagrantly ignored) this intersection is extremely perilous for pedestrians. Cars create traffic, not road safety improvements. This poisonous mentality is endemic to Boston and may take a whole generation to change.

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I heard a story that like 40-50 years ago, Boston had a citywide no-right-on-red ordinance. Then the state told Boston they couldn't do that, so Boston went ahead and posted no-right-on-red signs whereever possible. Is that true, or myth?

There's also no street parking along the three streets, so visibility should be fine, and safe for everyone.

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in Boston. Rather, when Massachusetts first adopted right turn on red, the statewide law was written so that right turn on red was prohibited UNLESS there was a sign allowing it "Right Turn On Red After Stop". This directly conflicted with the national standard, which was right turn on red allowed unless there was a sign prohibiting it.

In about 1976 or 1977, the Federal Highway Administration called out the state on this, and required us to change the law to allow RTOR unless a sign prohibited it. Within the first couple of weeks after the law was changed, the No Turn On Red sign fairy magically appeared and blanketed nearly every intersection in the state with bright shiny No Turn On Red signs.

As currently written, state law allows right turn on a red indication (solid ball or arrow) unless there is a sign prohibiting it. This still slightly conflicts with the Federal standard, which allows RTOR on a red solid ball unless there's a sign prohibiting it, but allows RTOR on a red arrow only if there's a sign permitting it. Personally, I've never agreed with this distinction in the Federal standard, and agree with the current Massachusetts law - that RTOR should be allowed on either a red solid ball or a red arrow indication unless there's a sign prohibiting it. It's a more consistent treatment, and easier for drivers to understand and remember.

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I moved to Boston in 1975 after college, and the flooding of the No Turn on Red signs happened not too long after (within the '75-'80 time frame as I recall). It took a while before most of them were removed, and I think there was some legal encouragement/threat that served as the impetus.

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Cambridge does have a policy to post NTOR signs everywhere. The Feds either haven't noticed or don't care.

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... makes a difference to drivers sucked into their phones.

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More traffic at forest hills. Woohoo!
And no I won’t leave my car at home and rely on an unreliable transit system.

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P.S. I’ll be safely turning on red. #callthepopohoe

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You're the problem.

What makes you think you know better than city transportation planners? You're basing your disregard in for this law in...what? that you feel the T is unreliable? That it increases traffic? You think that's stronger than data driven decision making? Do you also not wear a mask just because some silly "doctors" and "scientists" asked you to? It's the same thing really.

What a knucklehead.

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I certainly do know better than city transportation planners, if the city is Boston.

Does the city use data-driven decision making when they do idiotic things like giving pedestrians an endless don’t walk light during parts of the cycle when no vehicles are crossing the crosswalk, because it’s crossing a one way leading into the intersection that has a red?

I go ahead and cross, because the city’s intersection design does nothing for safety and is a waste of everyone’s time.

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In that case, if you won't abide to the terms set forth by the Registry of Motor Vehicles that you agreed to follow when you were granted your driver's license, you should go to the nearest RMV branch and forfeit it.

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Y’all really get your panties tied in a bunch. It okay. Don’t be cry.

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... mini van at Forest Hills last night?

Should have turned your license in before you hit the moped rider.

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Y’all still crying about my comment. LMAO!

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That’s not how traffic laws work. They’re not a contract.

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I removed the no right on red sign at the end of the VFW about 10 years ago. They still haven’t replaced it.

Nutt up buttercup.

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.

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And now Adam has your IP address.

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If they have green right arrows whenever it makes sense, and sensible signal timing with functioning sensors, then No Turn On Red shouldn't be that bad here.

When HPA northbound has a green left arrow, does Ukraine eastbound have a green right arrow? There's no reason not to do this, since that right-turning flow wouldn't conflict with any pedestrian or vehicle movements.

The other green right arrows that should exist are Ukraine westbound during Washington southbound's green left arrow, Washington northbound during Ukraine westbound's green, and HPA southbound during Ukraine eastbound's green.

(Yeah Right on the sensible timing with functioning sensors. This is BTD we're talking about. My favorite example had broken sensors for YEARS leading to skipped greens if cars were only waiting on one side, which people kept reporting on 311 and the city kept closing.)

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I have to agree with their complaint. That new sign has traffic backed up to the station every afternoon.

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There's far too many No Turn on Red restrictions around Greater Boston.

The only places it's appropriate to have the restriction is where the view of oncoming traffic is obscured - by buildings, the layout of the road, greenery, etc. You could make an argument for having it in certain high-pedestrian areas, but even then it's perfectly safe to turn on red in light traffic, off-peak times of day, etc.

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We need automatic ticketing via camera surveillance. I would vote for any candidate who runs on this issue.

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Virtue signaling takes you further here than traffic signaling.

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And I'll vote against advocates of cash register policing every chance I get. This is a red state tactic used to treat the populace like an ATM, all while keeping "taxes" low for businesses.

The solution is not more regulations. Just like it's a quality of life issue if crossing the street isn't safe, it's also a quality of life issue if it takes 20 minutes to travel a mile.

If police enforced the pre-NTOR regulations correct, they'd ticket plenty of drivers who ignored the crosswalk and/or failed to make a full stop before turning. Both of those things are illegal with or without a NTOR sign.

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