Petitions in boxes

Photo via Creative Commons license

April 12’s hearing on the Mass. Ave. project is the final public step before the state’s Highway Commissioner decides whether to fund the plan. But the Town has already hosted 7 public meetings to design it.

At one of these last July 22, Joe Connors announced the anti-rebuild East Arlington Concerned Citizens Committee had collected “over two thousand” signatures on a petition against the project.

In contrast to the group’s recent antics, this petition may be the most substantive thing the CCC has done.

If the Town does not meet the group’s demands, Connors said, opponents would deliver these petitions to the hearing “in boxes.”

Alas, here we stray back into stunt territory.

The image of box after box of anti-rebuild sentiment piling up in mute testimony before the staff of Mass Highway is compelling. However, let’s do the math.

Suppose the CCC has collected 4,000 signatures (since they were up to “over 2,000” last summer). Suppose also that there is only room for 12 signatures per page.

Many of these are likely only partially filled. If the average number of signatures per page is just 8, then there will be 500 sheets of paper to deliver to Mass. Highway.

Five hundred sheets is a single ream of paper.

How many boxes does it take to deliver a ream of paper? We’ll find out on April 12.

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5 comments so far

  1. Mark Kaepplein on

    Dr. Berger does have a flair for the dramatic! Personally, I think petition signatures can have an influence on town officials, but all they really need to do is look at traffic counts to see how people have already spoken with their actions. Something like 99% rely on motor transportation – either in a vehicle or on a MBTA bus (after walking to get on one). Cyclists have broken the 1% mark in Cambridge and Boston, but I don’t see the growth as strong here. The proposed changes still won’t make Mass Ave. safe for kids to ride given the same level of traffic, just squeezed into fewer lanes. Crossing at unsignaled locations will get harder with fewer gaps in traffic. This is what my cat relies on to cross Mass Ave.

    • dr2chase on

      Mark, I don’t think what you say here is true, and I base this judgement on an experience with a neck-down crosswalk installed on Trapelo Road, and used by parents getting their kids to an elementary school. Before the neckdown, it was just plain scary. After the neckdown, it was much easier, because you knew that if you had the eyeball of the one driver approaching, then everything would stop, and you did not have to coordinate with two eyeballs.

      As to “fewer gaps in traffic”, that is not (supposed to be) an issue for crosswalks; the cars are supposed to stop, right?

      I also think you are wrong about safety and traffic squeezed into lanes, w.r.t. bicycles. Single-lane traffic is less confused, and less swervy, and probably a little slower. This all increases safety for cyclists. In the limit, if traffic jams result, it becomes quite a bit safer, because then the cars are scarcely moving.

      By-the-way — you remarked, I think on Will Brownsberger’s site, that the Middlesex Turnpike is scary even in a car (somewhat true), but I also see you lamenting the designed-for-the-past nature of many roads. So you must be thinking of some improved modern design, that is nonetheless, not like the Middlesex Turnpike, which is modern, and may even be comparable in width (between the Lexington line and 128) to Massachusetts Avenue (oddly enough, I have not had an opportunity to deploy my measuring tape :-). Understand, when you say “modern road design”, that’s what pops to my mind, but I know you hate it, so you must be thinking of something else. Have you got a good example of what you’d like to see?

      • Mark Kaepplein on

        This comment seems to belong to another thread. I’m not sure where the thread is with Brownsberger comment, but scary isn’t the term I used or intended to describe Middlesex Turnpike in Burlington. It discourages travel of all modes! The cascade of traffic signals and resulting congestion is so frustrating I don’t want to patronize any of those businesses – an example of reduced economic activity caused by insufficient road capacity. Middlesex Turnpike predates Route 2 (1933?), actually, by quite a bit.

        • dr2chase on

          I am sure it predates it as a piece of pavement, but it has the look of a road that was “redesigned” in the (19)70s or 80s. The inside-128 section has a pair of travel lanes in each direction, and a middle turn lane. So when you say “modernized”, that’s more or less what I think you mean, but I know that can’t be right. (So what ARE you thinking roads should be improved into?)

          And yeah, I hear you on the incentive not to patronize, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s hurting. The parking lots get plenty full, and there’s a mess of traffic. This is one of those places where, if pressed for a bicycle-friendly solution, I start to think about elevated paths.

          • Mark Kaepplein on

            I believe the shared middle left turn lane predates having lots of traffic lights with left turn lanes, which is the current standard. Removing about half of the lights for left turns would probably be an improvement as long as drivers queued back waiting for remaining ones aren’t stupid and block left turners (wishful thinking). If going to Market Basket (or the Korean market), I use the back entrance to that parking lot.


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