Hello Southie neighbors,
The way that South Boston’s main streets are set up today make it easy for drivers to drive dangerously, creating unsafe conditions for pedestrians. I was hit by a car as a pedestrian walking in the crosswalk in Southie last February and am frustrated by what I see as car-centered traffic management here. Car drivers have a sense of entitlement to the road that makes walking around the neighborhood treacherous in some places. Fortunately, there are several streets that can be quickly, easily, and inexpensively made safer if our elected officials know that there’s neighborhood support for the changes.
Most of the traffic safety problems in Southie are caused by the high rates of speed that a lot of car drivers use when they travel through Southie. The width of East and West Broadway made sense when there were trolleys on them, but now their lanes are wide enough to encourage speeds of at least 35 miles per hour. Drivers drive as fast as they feel safe going on a road. Wider streets make speeding feel safer. To make Southie safer for pedestrians we have to narrow road widths.
It’s also clear that there’s no need for more than one lane in each direction on East and West Broadway. Southie residents demonstrate this every day when they pull over in the right hand lane and double park, blocking an entire lane often during rush hour. In the absence of adequate enforcement, these lanes should be eliminated. Instead they should be used to make biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, etc. safer by providing a separate “slow lane.”
Summer Street has an even worse speed problem. Between East Broadway and the reconstructed section in Fort Point, Summer Street feels like a pass-through highway. Car drivers speed 99% of the time and often go more than 45 miles per hour. Because it looks and feels like a highway, drivers travel at highway speeds. And yet almost all of them are cutting through Southie and will end up on slow and narrow L Street. Drivers feel like they should be driving at highway speeds through Southie because that’s what they were just doing coming from downtown. That makes their behavior less safe once they’re at L Street. Narrowing the Summer Street lanes to restrict cars to a more safe speed will help pedestrians, bicyclists, and everyone else be safer all the way from South Station to the Curley Community Center.
To anyone who supports narrowing road widths, please consider reaching out to our city councilors and other elected officials to say so. We shouldn’t have to experience another injury or death caused by unsafe driving.