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Reader Poll: Do You Feel Safe as a Pedestrian on the North End / Waterfront Streets?

Last month, city councilors discussed concerns about pedestrian safety at their regular council meeting. As Boston becomes more developed, there are more vehicles as well as more pedestrians. Raised by Councilor Flynn, he said many residents don’t feel safe walking throughout the city. He wants to see more raised crosswalks, speed bumps, and stop signs.

In the densely-settled North End / Waterfront, it’s no secret that both pedestrians and vehicles are abundant. As a pedestrian, do you feel safe walking in the neighborhood? Vote in our poll and add your comments in the section below!

Web polls are unscientific and reflect only those who choose to participate. polls do not have any official significance and are only intended for the interest of our readers.

24 Replies to “Reader Poll: Do You Feel Safe as a Pedestrian on the North End / Waterfront Streets?

  1. Is there any millennial who’s head isn’t buried in their phones when they walk through the city?

    You have to have your head on a bit of a swivel but…generally, I feel safe as a pedestrian provided I don’t jaywalk.

    1. Are you saying that drivers can’t be millennials? And that drivers can’t be buried in their phones?

      Remember that drivers can kill others. Pedestrians can only get killed. For that reason alone, the onus to act responsibly should be placed on drivers first and foremost given their roles as innately dangerous road users. Unless you think our road system should be governed like the animal kingdom where the prey need to be aware of the predators…

        1. I’m sorry that your worldview is finally being contested after nine decades of growing vehicular dominance.

  2. Given the numbers of distracted drivers, I never trust them. Feeling safe is the same as believing that Boston has good drivers.

    1. We were trained from a young age to look both ways before crossing the street. The protected cycletrack on Atlantic/Commercial is new and different so we’re not used to looking both ways before crossing the cycletrack. But, at most, a collision with a cyclist could result in serious injury. A collision with a car–especially anything larger than a sedan–is likely to result in death.

      40,000 Americans were killed by drivers in 2018. How many Americans were killed by cyclists in that same year?

  3. I work in the neighborhood. General neighborhood safety is good. What concerns me are the turning cars who do not always yield to pedestrians. One has to be very vigilant, especially when construction is going on.

    1. I completely agree. More bump-outs with curb ramps at intersections would help to prevent this behavior as they require drivers to slow down more significantly when making turns.

  4. Compared to other parts of Boston I’d say the NE is safer. It seems you can’t turn on the news without seeing a story of a pedestrian injured or killed usually as a hit and run or someone who drove their car into a business or into someone’s house and the City still hasn’t implemented the hands free driving bill ?

  5. As a mom of a toddler who’s out all the time, one of my greatest fears is getting hit by a car crossing Atlantic/Commercial or at any side street. Drivers do not stop at any of the stop signs in the North End esp at the intersections of North and Lewis Streets and Lewis and Commercial Streets. There’s never police presence – my God could they make money like the tow companies do on Tuesdays! It’s a shame. The cross walk sign in the middle of Atlantic Ave’s crosswalk near Lewis Wharf is run over every couple of months. There’s a major lack of accountability by the drivers and the City of Boston.

    1. As a resident for almost 13 years, I feel less safe as a pedestrian than I ever have. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “almost” been hit by ride-share car drivers that are too busy looking at their phones. The closest call was an Uber driver who came flying down Snow Hill and never stopped at the stop sign. Had I been a few feet further, he would have crashed right into my driver’s side door. The one thing that upsets me the most is all the speeding cars, especially near the schools. It seems like it’s worse than ever, despite the fact that our streets are even more jammed up by ride-share vehicles. One guy actually stopped to tell me it was okay to go 50mph on Charter because it was after midnight!

      I’m usually the one motioning to cars to slow down. And now, there are scooters. I was at the end of Unity Street and about to turn left onto Tileston. I thought it was safe to proceed until a boy on a motorized scooter came flying down Tileston! He had a helmet on, but that wouldn’t have made a difference if I hadn’t been quick to brake. No parents anywhere in site.

      Often I feel like the speeding and distracted drivers are so rampant that it’s just a matter of time before a child gets hit.

  6. I feel safe. BUT I’m really at a loss as to why the stop sign was removed at the corner of Commercial & Richmond – facing Richmond heading towards Cross Street. Even though there’s a crosswalk, cars zip down this completely residential street and many barely even slow down at the crosswalk. I think there was a stop sign there at one point but it’s been gone for a few years.

    1. I completely agree. Many drivers speed into that intersection going south on Commercial. A stop sign would definitely be helpful there. The curb ramps to cross Richmond on both sides of Commercial are also nonexistent and they should be bumped out whenever they get installed to make the intersection feel tighter thus safer.

  7. In the North End, the question should be less about road safety (although I agree that Commercial, Atlantic, and Cross are still designed as high-speed thoroughfares and should definitely be re-designed to reduce speeding) and more about road equity. There are far more pedestrians on almost every street in the neighborhood than there are moving and parked cars combined, yet pedestrians are only allotted a fraction of the public right-of-way.

    Although it may feel generally safe to walk within the North End because of the nature of the streets preventing (most) drivers from speeding, it often does not feel comfortable or pleasant to do so because of the width of the sidewalks relative to the number of users, the number of cars parked on sidewalks or crosswalks, the street furniture obstructing the sidewalks, the absence of curb ramps, etc. This is why strategic pedestrianization–or at least the removal of some street parking to widen sidewalks–is absolutely necessary to improve the quality of life for most North End residents.

    Unfortunately, the politics of the neighborhood are run almost entirely by a small minority of residents–and some non-residents–who drive into and out of the neighborhood on a daily basis and are more concerned about parking and driver mobility than the well-being of the majority of the neighborhood.

    That being said, I’ve always wondered why those residents continue to live in the neighborhood if they drive so frequently and continue to shop at the Market Basket in Somerville instead of here in the neighborhood. It seems to me like they might be happier living in the suburbs than living in one of the densest, most walkable neighborhoods in America.

    It’s important to remember that the North End was already fully developed 100 years prior to the advent of the Model T. The neighborhood was not built for cars yet we continue trying to cram cars in anywhere we can while also trying to maintain the “historic character” of the neighborhood–two goals that are completely contradictory.

  8. Raised Crosswalks ?????? Another “BUMP IN THE ROAD”~~~~There are ENOUGH~~~ Bumps, Potholes, Loose Bricks, Slants, Uneven Bricks, Uneven Sidewalk Curbstones, Patched-up Sidewalks and Streets to trip and or fall over !!!!!!!
    Now they want to add more?? Raised crosswalks~~~I think NOT !!
    Vehicles driving in our area, have no respect for pedestrians ~~on that I agree !! North End people do not CORNER CROSS !! We only have had what 3 street lights in the whole North End~~~so we tend to cross in the middle of the street.

    How can anyone even think of using a cell phone while walking~~~an elderly person has to look down at their footing “AT ALL TIMES” !!!

    I realize that this questionnaire is regarding cars not giving a pedestrian the ~~RIGHT OF WAY but, because of looking down at the walking situation, my attention is on my footing. Meanwhile I’ll get run-down by a vehicle~~~ha ha ha (not funny) I guess I am looking at this from an “OLD LADY’S VIEWPOINT” !!!! I don’t think I am the only one facing this problem !!!

  9. I believe that the intersection at Cross St. and Hanover St. could be significantly improved.

    The light turns green for both directions of cars on Hanover – most of which turn onto Cross St. towards 93 – at the same time that the light turns green for pedestrians to walk across Cross St. In this situation, everyone turns loses: pedestrians feel bullied to walk faster as cars from both directions inch closer and traffic moves slowly as cars from both sides take turns merging onto Cross St.

    This could be solved with staggered phases. Or, do not allow left turns onto Cross (when approaching from downtown) and send that traffic to Sudbury St in order to make the left.

  10. Interesting discussion about vehicles… But personally, I feel there’s too much construction in the neighborhood! The clearances for pedestrians aren’t very wide, and I don’t feel comfortable walking next to the equipment (& my job was half spent in construction sites!). To completely avoid walking directly next to construction projects, I have to jaywalk to get around the neighborhood and run our daily errands (stay at home mom now!). Thanks for listening (reading)!

  11. I knew it was coming? The old worn out line that “maybe they would be happier living out in the suburbs”It isn’t your place to tell people where they should shop or live and it isn’t none of your business.

    1. I’m not telling anyone where to live. I’m suggesting they might be happier in a place that better accommodates their preferences.

      1. How would you like if someone suggested you move to someplace where you might be happier like Beacon Hill or the South End or the Seaport or perhaps somewhere across the Pond? You seem to have a career based bias about cars vs people. You also have a very condescending attitude about how people should live their lives. The bottom line is

        1. That’s just the new calling card of the effete gentrifiers. If you can take the cost of living here, move out and leave it to us. Back to the topic. Michael mentioned that it is better here than other parts of the City and I agree with that. Although, I am very wary with cross walks and even lights. Given that you get distracted tourists and people in a rush to get somewhere. Best rule that I can think of is, never trust a driver will follow the rules. Goes for bicycles too.

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