Community Government Transportation

Traffic Enforcement and Engineering Speak About Crosswalk Signage and Parking

Boston Transportation Department representatives from traffic enforcement and engineering attended the July 2012 North End Public Safety Meeting regarding crosswalk signage and parking restrictions in the neighborhood.

Traffic Enforcement Officers from Boston Transportation Department speak to North End / Waterfront residents about parking restrictions in the neighborhood. ( photo)

Traffic enforcement officers clarified that residents cannot park beyond the 2 hour limit in visitor spots, unless it is specifically posted for resident parking. A follow-up with Ryan Kenny on the Neighborhood Council after the meeting revealed that NEWNC is working with BTD to turn more visitor spots into residential parking, outside of Hanover and Salem Streets.

One vocal resident complimented the aggressive parking enforcement in the North End. “We should not have any visitor spots, period. Let them park in a garage,” said the resident. “This is a residential neighborhood. Why are we subsidizing restaurant customers?” Residents can report parking violations to BTD at 617-635-4811.

City Traffic Engineer and North End resident, Al Vilar, also spoke to attendees to clarify BTD’s “concurrent walk” system whereby a walk signal is lit at the same time that vehicle traffic has a green light. There has been some confusion by residents at the Hanover and Cross Street intersection because cars are allowed to turn despite the walk signal. Signs have been installed to tell both pedestrians and motorists they should look out for one another.

Senior Traffic Engineer Al Vilar speaks to the group about traffic signals and crosswalk signage. (

Many Boston intersections previously had “Exclusive Pedestrian Time,” a practice that is now largely eliminated to cut down on traffic delays. Only when there are more than 250 vehicles/hour making a turn will such exclusive walk times be implemented.

At some busier intersections, pedestrians are given a “leading interval” which is about 8 seconds of time before traffic starts moving. Vilar said that 90% of the country is now using the concurrent walk system so that traffic is never completely stopped in both directions because of a walk signal. BTD’s experience is that pedestrians do not usually wait for the walk signal anyway.

In the North End, one particularly troublesome intersection is at N. Washington St., Causeway St. and Commercial St. where serious accidents have occurred in the past.  BTD is looking for alternatives at this site to decrease motorist delays and increase safety.

One Atlantic Ave. resident brought up using traffic signals to slow down speeding traffic, including HazMat trucks that are still allowed to pass through the neighborhood at night. Engineer Vilar said traffic studies have shown that more lights are generally are not effective in slowing down traffic.

Vilar said  the “colonial remnant” red/yellow system previously used in New England is now outlawed by the Federal government. Apparently, visitors to the area did not understand the system of simultaneous red and yellow traffic lights.

BTD also said that traffic and crosswalk lines on Commercial Street are being expeditiously replaced and realigned due to faulty installation when the bike lanes were added last year. Residents have complained to officials of traffic issues along Commercial St., especially at pinch points including the Battery St. intersection. One Southbound vehicle lane on Commercial St. was removed last Fall to accommodate the new bike lanes.