Hey, there! Log in / Register

Citizen complaint of the day: No room for jaywalkers on Hanover Street

No break in barriers between outdoor patios along Hanover Street

Some North Enders have been grumbling for weeks about the loss of parking spaces along Hanover Street as restaurants ready their pandemic-inspired outdoor patios for their official opening tomorrow. One fuming citizen filed a 311 complaint this morning abut the way some of the barriers just don't stop:

I thought the city promised breaks in between barriers for outside dining ? Where is the break? This is another broken promise for the residents and it's horrible! My mother is elderly and had to walk in the street to get around

The Boston Licensing Board's instructions for restaurant owners do require them to have portable handicap ramps available, but only so patrons in wheelchairs can get from the sidewalk down to tables placed on parking spots.




And jaywalking has long been a Boston tradition, and part of what makes Boston a superior walking city. Making the restaurant barriers a solid wall is not neighborhood friendly, and not really even patron friendly as you need to traverse the whole line before you can cross the street.


It's a rather dangerous and stupid tradition, because one never knows if they'll jaywalk right in front of somebody who's not paying attention to what's in front of the car that s/he is driving, simply has the "the hell with it" attitude, and ends up running over, seriously injuring, or killing the jaywalker. Jaywalkers really do put themselves at an awful lot of risk, especially here in the Boston area.

New York City, btw, is rather dangerous in that way, too.


I'll cross the street anywhere and anytime I damn well please. You are right, this isn't NYC.

Nothing funnier than people in college from New York who heard my Dorchester accent and said "You Tawk Weird". Right back at you sister.


The thing is NYC has much wider streets than Boston. Especially in Manhattan. You'd have to be suicidal to try Jaywalking there. Boston on the other hand has very narrow streets comparatively.


Those streets were not made for cars. In fact, cars are a relatively recent interloper. Better to close down the whole area to motorized traffic except for deliveries and people with disabilities.


Folks who cross in the middle of the block understand the risk.

They also rightly understand that the public way belongs to all of us, not just those behind the wheel. Furthermore, they understand a tradition that exists in many cultures and for over thousands of years that the vehicle with more power has an obligation to yield to the vehicle with less power.

If you're driving in an urban area, you and your vehicle are the guest. Please act accordingly.


Unfortunately, however, there are automobile drivers who are extremely careless, thus making it equally important for pedestrians to pay attention.

I've also seen pedestrians talking and texting on cell phones while crossing the street, for example, who seem totally oblivious to what's going on around them. That is really not good, either.


Your argument sounds a lot like “women shouldn’t wear short skirts because there are a lot of rapists out there.”


There is consistency in that. At least when it comes to "permissible" hours for women to be safely outside their homes.

or blind people who want to cross the street?


They should pay attention, and avoid texting or dedicating their full attention to a phone call. The same as anyone else.

So trains yield to trucks, trucks yield to cars, large SUVs yield to econobox cars, cars yield to bicycles, and fit cyclists yield to huffing and puffing out of shape cyclists?

People who aren’t paying attention or who have a “the hell with it” attitude need to be prevented from getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

Even the term “jaywalking” is a product of a coordinated PR campaign by the automobile lobby to shoo pedestrians out of public spaces so those spaces could become the exclusive domain of the automobile


... industry on the original term, “jay driving”. Part of their campaign to remove the streets as public space in the eyes of the public. As more people bought cars, it caught on.


I've heard the origin of jaywalking from several places but never heard of it being applied to drivers in the early history of the automobile.

"Jay" at that time was a term used similar to calling someone a country bumpkin. It makes sense that a person like that would walk in front of a car, but not that they were someone who could afford a car in those days.

Google it if you’re still doubtful.

... other people’s civil disobedience.

The few times anyone has complained directly to me about crossing the street outside the confines of a crosswalk, I respond that if a crosswalk was going where I need to go, I’d have no problem using it.

I don’t make eye contact or give any indication I’ve seen a driver except to hold up my hand to stop them. But I am very aware that they are there. Don’t assume people aren’t paying attention. Making eye contact is asking permission where none is required and it’s still a guess after that if it has been given.

Most pedestrian deaths by driver error occur in crosswalks.


I'd bet the reason that crosswalks are so dangerous is that they're at intersections, where you have to watch out for traffic from four directions at once, rather than just two.

(There's a good reason they're at intersections, but... yeah, they're not necessarily safer even with a good stoplight/crossing light setup.)


A street that offers a good view of oncoming traffic is excellent for feralwalking. I used to cross at the intersection near me (fyi, residential neighborhood). But then the city put a stop sign there. I do not trust that drivers will stop. Now I cross in the middle of the street. Look both ways, get a clear view for huuunndreds of feet each way. If there ain't no cars comin', I cross.

P.S. There's a book called "The Hidden Life of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas". She's talked about her huskies adventures off-leash in Cambridge, MA. She even followed him on her bicycle and one thing she discovered is that he cross in the middle of the street. Good book.


I live near a corner with stop signs that local drivers consider optional. It's much safer to cross in the middle of the block, especially when cars are parked in the crosswalk anyway.

It's absolutely no problem whatsoever to judge distance and relative speed when you're not hurling down the street encompassed in steel at speeds the human body was not designed for.

Crossing the street is made dangerous by the motor vehicles using it.


... the motor vehicles.


Boston tradtion?? ha! Guess you don't venture much beyond Medford. Chicago and NYC are notorious for jaywalking.

And I find it amusing that few people here even knew what jaywalking was before, say, 10 years or so ago. A practice so prevalent that most don't even know that it has a name is most certainly a local tradition.


No place is “notorious for jaywalking,” because jaywalking isn’t a real thing. What the pro-auto crowd calls “jaywalking” is what the rest of us call “using a public street as a pedestrian.”

There are, on the other hand, some places, DC and a few California cities come to mind, that are notorious for fining pedestrians for being insufficiently deferential to automobiles.

Obviously there are places, such as highways, that were purpose-built for cars, and where restrictions on pedestrian access are appropriate. Hanover Street in the North End ain’t one of them.


Some parts of the Boston suburbs are designed surprisingly badly for pedestrians. No sidewalks even though there are places to walk to, no way to cross the road for miles, etc. Some non-expressway roads with destinations on them even have No Pedestrians, Bikes, or Horses signs.

Suburban areas in many other American cities do this much better than us.


Control. Now they get to make every walk a either direction to an intersection and wait for a directive to cross. Everything plays in together. Ima stop there because I dont want to start sounding like a theorist.

This is a legit complaint. You're privatizating the street and still keeping cars the priority.

Tear down that wall!


Let deliveries be made in the morning. Then make it a pedestrian street. Leave 10' down the middle for emergency vehicles or pick-up/drop-off of people with mobility needs, but no through traffic. Let Amazon and the Post Office and the United Parcel Service figure out how to use bicycles for last-half-mile deliveries.


Giving a bunch of commuter businessmen private domain over sidewalks is some nonsense.


Even if you’re a law-and-order type who thinks
People should only walk where and when the city says, these walls also block people getting out of vehicles during drop-offs.

Maybe not a problem for most people, but people with mobility issues could have real trouble getting around the wall.


I don't go down Hanover much, but the problem on Salem is that the restaurants fill the whole sidewalk with tables, so you have to walk in the street or get breathed on by people eating. When the barriers don't have spaces in them, it gets bad fast.

(This seems like a good time to complain about people walking around the North End completely unmasked--mostly Bruins fans, but a lot of the younger residents too.)


If we hadn't decided to give up 80% of it to motor vehicles. Let's take it back and make this a great place to walk and dine outside.


The city didn't close the complaint right away, so there is some small hope they will actually act on it.

The North End streets are very hard for pedestrians to navigate during normal times. These cafes take up full parking spots, leaving the remaining street very narrow. With dining and crowds waiting for tables on the sidewalk, residents will have to walk in the street - which we do during busy times overwhelmed with diners and tourists. The cafes are great. There really needs to be greater oversight of them in the North End though.


The cafes are fine. The real issue that we've decided to cede an enormous amount of public space to a single use (driving motor vehicles) and we're not willing to give that back to everyone else.


Ban cars.


Nobody reasonable is calling for cars to be banned, only for a little thoughtfulness around the effects of trying to jam large numbers of them through streets that were laid out 50 or 100 years before cars were invented.

There is no reason for private motor vehicle traffic on Hanover St.


"Ban cars"
"Ban cars from Hanover Street"
"Ban private cars from Hanover Street"
"Ban private cars from Hanover Street during most of the day, except for handicapped access"

These are all very different things


North End sidewalks are busy all day - this produces a dangerous affect of squeezing people too tightly on already small sidewalks with no outlet.
Very difficult situation for kids, people w kids in carriages, the infirm.

Correct. Sidewalk are way too narrow, even pre-covid. Now add in cross traffic (wait staff), and it's even worse.

All to protect travel lanes for cars (which can now travel faster because there is nothing to slow them down)?