Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Beep Frigging Beep

"What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation?"

For those of you that have the mistaken idea that your city has the world's worst drivers, let me gently correct you. I've driven all over the world, and nobody, but nobody can experience driving like in my corner of the world. There are many reasons why the drivers are so bad here, some understandable like the complete lack of signage and a dearth of moving violation citations despite pulling some really stupid moves right in front of police officers. But in my particular city, those are compounded by a sense of entitlement and priviledge that renders the driving population absolutely stupid with power.

For the newbie, driving in Metrowest can be similar to an army obstacle course. You've got people making left turns from right lanes right in front of you. You have people driving in breakdown lanes on your right, people double parked blocking whole lanes while they "just run in to get some coffee", people cutting in front of you while driving a tank Hummer blabbing on a cell phone, people parking in handicapped spaces with no regard for whom they are blocking, and worst of all, people who just plow right through red lights and stop signs, because they are so important that rules don't apply to them.

Then, there's the tale of woe surrounding how traffic lights are programmed. For example, at an intersection near us, traffic heading straight across Centre St from Dedham to Needham Streets have to sit through FOUR cycles of lights directing traffic to and from Winchester to Centre, and from Needham to Centre. The traffic backs up on Dedham as people sit through each cycle, and then the horns start honking and people start sneaking through the red light. Because unless they see with their own eyes that it will eventually turn green, it appears as if the lights are broken. They're not, they are horribly timed and the city will do nothing to change that.

How about the stop signs on Lower Hammond St near the T stop? Those are blown through all day long, even though there is T pedestrian traffic crossing the street.

What about the traffic in the Centre where double and triple parking, plus a bizarre traffic pattern, narrow streets, one-way streets, and street parking only on certain hours with strict ticketing for parking violations makes for one of the more bizarre driving experiences. There are days you have to wonder if this is some kind of weird science experiment or something.

But what gets me the most is the profound feeling of entitlement and superiority other drivers exhibit on a daily basis in my fair city. One glittering example is the drivers exiting Rt 9 onto Centre St. Yes, it's a horribly designed intersection and basically a free-for all since there are no lights there, where they are badly needed. Almost every time we breeze through this intersection, some fool cuts in front of us, even though they have a stop sign and we have the right of way. It is exceedingly dangerous, and yet there is never any police presence there because, heck, what's a moving voilation in this state, anyways? And even if some chump gets a ticket, the fine is so minimal compared to other states that it's no incentive to learn how to drive properly.

Rolling stops, plowing through red lights, yellow means speed up, flashing red means speed up, and the bigger your SUV, the more important you are all combine to make driving a deadly bumpercar game here in the city. The lesson is, parking voilations are taken seriously, moving violations are a joke.

And they wonder why we have such an insurance nightmare here!
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Blogger Rebecca said...

Hmmmm. I sort of resemble one of those aggressive drivers. ;)

Thanks for stopping by my blog! While I kid about stalking Jason, you truly do - and you are now my new 'hero'. ;) Please let me know if you do see him mowing the lawn. And yes, we do "hate her". She always looks so miserable!!!

11/4/06 11:20 AM  
Blogger timlav said...

Driving in Newton is indeed frustrating. It is a very good example of what driving in the Boston area is like. I used to spend a lot time driving between Route 128 and the Highlands when I worked in Needham. Lunching near the Highlands' T stop was always a treat, but it was no picnic getting there. I still get over there from time to time when visiting New England Mobile or other old haunts.

Most of roads intersections owned by the city operate OK. It's the roads owned by the state that frustrate me. I hate the fact that the state owns and neglects so many roads in the urban core.

11/4/06 12:22 PM  
Blogger craziequeen said...

And here is your engraved invitation!

It is with great pleasure that Her Majesty invites you to the first Royal Blog Party at Craziequeen’s Palace on Thursday 13 April, commencing at 10pm BST (British Summer Time).

11/4/06 2:21 PM  
Blogger jo said...

Ah Newton. A place where I work and live and have a serious love/hate relationship with.
Least favourite places to drive...

Needham street at noon any day of the week.

Newton Centre - every day (of course that don't turn left into the parking lot sign doesn't apply to you go right ahead..I'll wait.

Near the Atrium on route 9- most days - by all means, do slip down past the valet parking and push your way into the garage, I've just been sitting here on route 9 waiting to get in, but you go ahead, I can see you are busy. No, no of course I'll wait for you as you hover for a space on the Valet or B level, why on EARTH should you have to drive down to the completely empty lower levels *shudder* and take the elevator with the great unwashed like me.

The parking lot at the Bloomingdales lower mall heading behind Legal Seafoods - Of course I see the STOP sign, I've stopped see. Now you just saunter across with your BIG BROWN BAG talking on your cell phone about the SALE and the SHOES you just bought, sure you too, okay, yea you can cross, and you, and you , and you, and....I'll just sit here and people watch.

Attempting to take my exit to route 30 from 128 North bound - Why of course that yield sign on BOTH sides of the ramp coming from the Pike merge on to 128 doesn't mean you. Why should you have to turn your precious head and maybe put that cellphone down for a second to see if traffic is coming on the left? Your ramp is the only ramp on the highway and your already doing 75 on it, why should you slow down to let me exit? I'd love to get stuck back on 128 and go up 1 exit and turn around so I don't inconvenience you.

Newton Whole Foods parking lot Sunday afternoon or on ANY HOLIDAY.

Washington Street - Any day, any time.
no wonder there is a Ferrari dealership. You need to be an F1 driver to even think about driving down that road and coming out unscathed.

12/4/06 6:57 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

You live in Boston and you are going to "gently" correct someone? CMAHN, Woman! Grow a spine! I know what you mean, though...it really IS a circus. I loved a few years back or so when they did an expose on city officials using their relatives' handicapped labels for parking. Loved, loved LOVED it. Where I work, there is a certain population of people (coughbrazilianscough) who like to park in the handicapped spots because God forbid, they should have to walk 8 more feet to the door. I call the police and have them come out and ticket. That is definitely my worst pet peeve.

12/4/06 9:51 AM  
Blogger margalit said...


Man do you know Newton! You hit the nail on the head so perfectly. I think we should be friends.

12/4/06 10:52 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

OH MY GOD! I hate that Centre/Dedham/Needham St. intersection. Hate it.
I used to drive that way to BC as an undergraduate (I commuted, only way I could afford it), and that intersection made me late for class on more than one occassion.

Don't even get me started on Rt. 9.

14/4/06 7:06 AM  

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