Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Paahk yah caaah

While I have besmirched the reputations of many a city planner and/or group of drivers in my life, I think that in general they can all step aside now, for I have discovered what could possibly be the worst combination of those two groups and pedestrians: Boston. I love the city. It's actually very cool, but driving the streets is a punishment straight from the bowels of a medieval torture chamber.
Problem the first: the roads make no sense. They are one way streets in large part, however that can be overlooked because of the same mulligan that all older cities get: cars weren't around when they were first built. Tokyo, of course, doesn't get that mulligan because it was only burnt to the ground back during World War II and they chose to rebuild the streets and buildings exactly where they were. That is idiocy whether it was MacArthur's fault or random Japanese city planner's fault. Anyway, back to Boston. They have a lot of one-way streets that end for no apparent reason. They're going, nice and normal, and suddenly they hit a building. Then you have the mess of freeway that they routed underground. The path's still above ground, although they have routed a lot of roads over the newly created greenery making it much less annoying than it had the potential to be. In addition, I haven't seen any speed limit signs and the markings on the road appear and disappear at random. I don't know if it's the result of gnomes or just lazy road work, but sometimes you have 5 lanes of traffic in 1 lane of marked traffic.
Add to this that the drivers are crazy and that pedestrians don't have a care in the world and you have a bad driving experience. The pedestrians just meander across traffic as though they're at BYU. They don't pay attention to lights or anything else. Fortunately they don't get hit, but they do serve to make traffic far worse. Give me New York traffic any day. Sure, every cabbie in the city has a death wish, but you know exactly what's needed. If you're a pedestrian, cross wherever you want as long as a car's not coming. The rules are clear, as are the penalties. Cross all you want, but the car will win every time. Forget it and you become a cabbie's hood ornament. Bottom line for Boston so far? It's great, but only rent a car if you're a very patient person (or if you're going to Cape Cod, you can't walk or take the T there).

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