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Two pedestrians seriously injured in crash on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston

Victim's boot

A victim's boot. Photo by Live Boston.

Live Boston reports the driver of a small SUV hit two pedestrians at 1270 Commonwealth Ave., inbound just before Harvard Avenue, around 7 p.m. on Monday.

Both were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, one of them with potentially life-threatening injuries.

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Comments

That's a tough spot. Traffic tends to be moving very fast on that straightaway, coming down Comm Ave. There's really only one place to cross in that area and on a dark, rainy night like last night, it would be easy not to see someone in the crosswalk. I hope the pedestrians survive.

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Voting closed 13

It is much easier to see someone in a crosswalk if you assume that an area with crosswalks has pedestrians around, and adjust speed accordingly for the conditions.

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Voting closed 105

was that that crosswalk is very hard to see from a driver's perspective, especially at night. Also, if you look at google maps you'll see that crosswalk has a traffic signal, so as a driver I think you might assume that if there's a green light pedestrians won't be jumping out into traffic as they need to yield until there's a red. It's not the same as a standard crosswalk where pedestrians always have the right of way. I'm going to guess that the pedestrians saw the crosswalk and assumed they had the right of way, while the driver had a green light and assumed the same. This is not the first time someone has been hit and seriously injured in that area so hopefully they make some changes.

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Voting closed 23

In what way is the crosswalk hard to see? It's quite visible in the photos linked in Adam's story. Not faded paint or anything.

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1. Last night it was extremely dark and rainy
2. It's a stoplight not a crosswalk. If you have a green light, in addition to low visibility, you typically won't expect pedestrians to step out in front of your vehicle.

I drive through that light all the time and frequently see confusion from vehicles and pedestrians there

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Voting closed 7

2. It's a stoplight not a crosswalk.

What on earth are you talking about? There's a crosswalk PAINTED ON THE STREET.

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...On so many levels here.

That crosswalk is towards the end of a long straight run of Comm Ave, and enough beyond the intersection with Harvard that drivers have no excuse to be looking anywhere but forward.

It's also very well lit, being in the middle of the whole street area. There are street lights and CVS lighting that area up.

There is also a cross signal. It's not clear here if the pedestrians used it or not, but since pedestrians always have the right of way in crosswalks, that's almost irrelevant.

Given the amount of damage to the car the driver was clearly going waaaaaaayyy to fast for the circumstances. Unless there was a medical emergency going on with the driver or mechanical issue with the car, there should be charges involved.

Hoping for the best for the pedestrians.

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Voting closed 23

should the pedestrians have been crossing? Unless the driver was running a red light, which doesn't seem to be the case, the light must have been green - in which case the pedestrians would not have had a walk signal.

I know that pedestrians always have the right of way when they're in the road in Massachusetts, but given the low visibility last night and the convention that you don't cross the road in the middle of a green light, I don't think this is so transparently the driver's fault.

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Pedestrians should not have been crossing if they didn't have a walk light.

It's not a convention. It's the right of way law.

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Means don't cross. If you disagree go right ahead and cross, just make sure you do it in front of a larger, sturdier vehicle.

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Voting closed 5

Pedestrians do not have the right of way in a crosswalk if they're crossing against the light.

It's one of the reasons 4-way walks are such a terrible idea. They encourage pedestrians to ignore the light, since much of the time it's perfectly safe to cross with the parallel green. But then if they get hit, even if the driver easily could have seen them and stopped, the driver is not at fault.

Of course, BTD manages to screw things up even further at this location by making the carriage road signalized for cars but unsignalized for pedestrians: https://goo.gl/maps/adMFgwtHXdt11QZR6

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Voting closed 6

While pedestrians don't have the same right of way as if they had waited for the light to change, drivers are still responsible to stop for pedestrians. You don't get carte blanche to run someone over if they step off the curb. (see here for more: https://www.wgbh.org/news/2016/06/08/local-news/who-has-right-way-crossw...)

Regardless of the law though, if you're driving a car, you should always be watchful and prepared to stop suddenly - particularly in a busy urban area, and particularly when visibility is bad (like at night). There's plenty of things out there (fallen tree branches, animals, other people) that are not going to be following right of way laws.

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...AND regardless of the law, if you're a pedestrian (or riding a bike, or driving a car) and you do something unsafe & stupid - even something that would normally be orthodox, safe & reasonable but that any reasonable observer could see is unsafe at the moment because of the reckless and/or illegal actions of others - the laws of physics don't give a flying covfefe who is at fault or will get arrested or get a traffic ticket or an insurance surcharge or who had the right of way.

It's like the old "Little Willy" poems
-
He was as right, dead right,
as the day is long -
but he was just as dead
as though he'd been dead wrong

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Voting closed 9

But the reaction afterwards should be "how do we redesign these man-made setups so that doing something stupid isn't a death sentence", not "oh well people just shouldn't do dumb things" as though this is some kind of natural event that's completely unavoidable rather than a setup created by human decisions and choices that we know how to improve.

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Voting closed 10

Let's start by fixing the unbelievable and illegal stupidity of the eastbound carriage road having a traffic light for cars but an unsignalized crosswalk for pedestrians.

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The vehicle (including bicycles), always wins the argument with a pedestrian.

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Yes, drivers should always do whatever they can to drive safely and avoid crashing, especially into pedestrians.

But that's not the same thing as the pedestrian having the right of way when crossing against the light.

I don't know what you mean by "the same right of way". You either have the right of way compared to another road user or you don't.

And a WGBH radio clip quoting one lawyer is not the law. Especially when it says things like, "So what if a pedestrian goes on a don’t walk, when you have a green, and crosses your path when they technically should be yielding to you? 'You have to stop, you’re required to stop.The idea that anybody would go based solely on the traffic signal is not the idea,' said Caselden."

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Medical issue or mechanical problem is no excuse. Driving is a privilege not a right. If you can’t safely operate a vehicle then don’t drive, end of story.

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Voting closed 13

This needs to be chiseled into the Side of a giant Boulder

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I got my driving license as an adult less than 2 years ago, and I take it really seriously. I am constantly on the lookout for, and anticipating, pedestrians. I drive with the flow but I do not let my guard down. When I walk as a pedestrian (or when I am on a bike) now, with the added perspective of being a driver, I am even more incensed when cars come through intersections or turn on/off streets at such speed that it is obvious they anticipate nothing and think the road belongs to them.

I hope the pedestrians will be ok.

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If only there were some sort of futuristic technology that could be used to cast more light on that intersection.

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Voting closed 38

That crossing has a traffic light.

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The nerve of those people, trying to cross the street. CAN'T YOU SEE I'M DRIVING HERE?

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Voting closed 29

From my childhood, "look both ways before crossing the street."

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Why can't Boston put in the flashing yellow lights at crosswalks (when the button is pressed) like they have on Mass Ave in Cambridge?

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traffic lights at this crosswalk. I'm guessing they were green at the time the pedestrians stepped into the road.

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Boston does have those on certain crosswalks - two across Longwood on either side of Avenue Louis Pasteur, for example (although I know from personal experience that one of the buttons to get the flashing yellow has been out of order for over a year...)

They also put one of those in Union Square Allston where that kid was killed, on Cambridge Street at Hano just in front of the bus stop.

I'm guessing that one issue is that the flashing yellow lights (which are not associated with an actual traffic light that turns RED for STOPPING traffic) aren't necessarily suitable for every crosswalk.

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To anyone looking at their smartphone or who just doesn’t care.

Plus those who don’t know the button is there or who aren’t able to reach it won’t use it and drivers habituated to treating the yellow flashing as a traffic light will just assume the pedestrians aren’t crossing, if they even bother to pay attention to them.

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Voting closed 21

1. They do.
2. This intersection has the full on red light/green light style of traffic light.

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Voting closed 13

I tried using them near Wollaston Station and the cars didn't even slow down through them. And I wasn't about to press my luck by crossing anyway hoping they'd stop.

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The red light sure helped a pedestrian I observed this morning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx8Q44M9n2w&feature=youtu.be

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Voting closed 4

Someone was already killed in that area in the last year. The city installed one of those radar speed signs. If you're even remotely looking at the road (or your speedometer...) while driving, you know your speed, and you know you're driving too fast.

A reminder, the speed limit in the City of Boston is 25mph. Speed limit, as in the maximum speed you can legally drive.

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Voting closed 55

They work at making people actually go the speed limit.

If MA can charge people tolls electronically they can issue speeding citations electronically.

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Would be a roadway redesign.

The traffic volumes on that roadway are minimal. Definitely well below what is required for two lanes. BTD could go out and barrel of one of the lanes today and make the road less like a highway. There is absolutely no need for two lanes along this roadway.

Then, BTD should revisit its preliminary plans to rebuild six through lanes on that roadway with … wait for it … six through lanes. For a part of the city which could use green space, there's a lot of roadway which could be made into green space. Plus, it would allow the B Line to be rebuilt (it could sorely use this, and already carries more people than the road does) with center island stations, and add safe walking and biking infrastructure. My thoughts from 2017 (!) here.

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Voting closed 47

There is absolutely no need for two lanes along this roadway.

I agree that you could reduce the road to one lane in-bound from Warren/Kelton St (with a turn lane at Allston St.) However, as you approach Harvard St, even with two lanes, it can get backed up to the point where it takes 2 or 3 lights to get through. (Plus there is a LOT of turning there.)

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even with two lanes, it can get backed up to the point where it takes 2 or 3 lights to get through.

I don't think Boston traffic engineers are aware of this technology, but it's actually possible to reprogram the timing of the light cycles.

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Deep rabbit hole...it often takes a while to turn there from Comm Ave inbound to Harvard Ave northbound because Harvard Ave is backed up and there's a track crossing too. So, you could look into better traffic cycle at Harvard and Brighton and possibly even synchronizing the two lights but there's often traffic between Brighton and Cambridge on Harvard which is waiting to get onto Cambridge...so now there are 3 lights to sync. And that's often backed up because Cambridge is backed up at times due to it being a major corridor for anyone in Brookline, Allston, and Brighton to get onto the Pike or into Cambridge, etc.

Of course, if we'd spent a few billion in the 80s turning the Green Line into a real subway line and extending it throughout the area and added transit hubs to the commuter rail and added a ring route around the outside edge of the city...none of this would be an issue. At least the Greenway is nice though. Oh, and maybe some day we might get a transit hub...with a project requirement being that all the travel lanes should remain on the Pike and Storrow even if it means expensive bridges and temporarily putting roads over the river...

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I think on Comm Ave at Harvard Ave, you would want a single through lane in each direction plus a dedicated left turn lane. By having a separate left turn lane, you could put left turns on a separate signal phase. This would help with safety for everyone, especially since drivers have to cross multiple other lanes and going eastbound, across the T tracks as well.

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That's quite possibly true.

But by thinking carefully about the current situation and how it could be better, you're clearly unqualified to work for BTD.

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The B Line doesn't need to be rebuilt, except maybe some platform widening. It needs full traffic light priority and offboard fare collection.

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Speed cameras work at making money for the camera company. If they solved the speed problem, they would no longer be profitable.

Locals quickly learn where the cameras are, and speed right up again once past them. People not from the neighborhood who get the tickets don't know about the cameras and therefore aren't driving any differently versus if the cameras weren't there.

MA can't use speed or red light cameras because they're illegal here. The law allows for toll cameras.

NYC has plenty of cameras. Do you feel particularly safe driving or walking there? I don't.

I'm not so concerned with speed, though the very rare driver going 45+ mph on city streets is of course a problem. I'm more bothered by texting and aggressive driving (tailgating and close lane changes).

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Oh, I'd love to see the citizenry react to that idea. You thought they loved red light cameras . .

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The City may post different speed limits on roads which are not state highways. However, Commonwealth Ave. is a state highway along that stretch -- it's MA Route 30, so the speed limit on Comm. Ave. is up to the state. As such the speed limit according to MGL c.90, § 17 would be 30 mph, unless the state had lowered it to 25.

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Comm Ave is city-maintained. I don't think the state has any extra speed limit authority versus other city roads just because it has a number.

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If it's a known spot where speeding is common enough to put a radar sign, the problem is the road design.

Drivers in our culture will drive as fast as they can. If the DOT builds fast roads, drivers will speed.

There's no enforcement of any driving law in Boston except "driving while Black". You can kill someone and chances are you still won't get any kind of ticket. Never mind the fact that most drivers are using their phones full time.

This is a preventable, recurring tragedy that is somehow just seen as "just the way things are" because speeding through a busy urban area has somehow become a constitutional right.

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This is the only accurate take on the problem. It's a sweeping downhill curve into a long straightaway, pretty much designed for cars to accelerate to maximum speed. No amount of signage will help. People routinely hit 50-60 mph there (just watch the radar sign for a few minutes if you'd like proof) with zero enforcement and no incentives whatsoever to go any slower. The only thing that will make a difference is a physical change to the road: speed bumps, rumble strips, zigzags, removal of lanes, etc. that can make drivers feel unsafe if they go too fast.

All of these options will reduce the capacity of that stretch of road, which everybody other than DOT freely acknowledges is fine since we don't need the capacity we have there now. Until DOT removes their fingers from their ears we should just expect a death there every year or two.

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Voting closed 9

I live one short block from the scene of this accident, on the other side of the street; looking out the window now from my computer desk, I can see the empty storefront (CVS moved out recently) in front of which (I assume) this accident took place last night. I live right by the corner where another pedestrian was killed within the last year, I think.

It was raining so hard last night that I had all my windows closed, and barely noticed the ambulance racing past with flashing lights, and didn't even hear the other sirens. Normally I'm very aware of all that kind of stuff as it runs by. If the rain muffled the sound that much, and I could see it was pouring buckets... it probably muffled vision and peoples' attention (driver and pedestrians). Since the story says the damaged car stayed on the scene, presumably that means the driver was still there, not a hit-and-run like the last death out front of me (they caught that driver later, I believe). So I'm curious to know what the driver's version of the accident was; I didn't see anything about that.

A more enduring/ongoing problem is all the jerks using Comm Ave as a drag strip, to see how fast they can roar past (especially late at night, and especially during the pandemic when traffic has been lighter around here). I've reported that behavior to the authorities a few times, but AFAIK nothing has been done about it.

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“Small SUV” is nearly an oxymoron. In addition to factors other commenters pointed out, larger cars like this make it more difficult to see what’s on the road - including people. These vehicles are not designed with pedestrian safety in mind.

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Nearly only counts in horseshoes.

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That is very near the area where a couple of years ago a driver opted to hit a pedestrian rather than try to avoid hitting him and possibly crash into a utility pole. Remember that loser?
Anyway, after that unfortunate incident, the speed limit had been posted there - 25 MPH - and for a while the digital readout of your speed was placed there to remind drivers.

That section of Comm. Ave is a speedway. With the car dealerships just down the road from there, folks taking a BMW or a Porsche for a test drive tend to punch the accelerator to see how much pep the car has.

Add to that inattentive drivers looking at their phone and inattentive pedestrians, also looking at their phones and many of them wearing earbuds, making them literally deaf to their surroundings, and you have the recipe for disaster.

While it is true that pedestrians always have the right of way, it isn't right to cross the road when the driver truly has the green light, but that doesn't stop anybody.

Earlier that same day, a girl riding a bicycle at the intersection of Harvard and Comm. was struck by a driver. He was making a left turn. She had the right of way.
Everybody - pedestrians and drivers - need to pay attention to their surroundings.

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Voting closed 9