Print Story Boston, yuo fail it.
By ana (Sun Apr 25, 2010 at 07:33:40 PM EST) #bostonfail (all tags)
My adventures trying to use Boston area streets.

I sing in a choir, which is part of the 9AM mass most Sundays, including this one. Warm-up is at 8AM, which is a bit of a hardship, but one learns.

The usual deal is get up at six, out of the house by 7:30, for a trip which in the zero traffic limit takes 10 minutes driving and then up to 5 minutes walking from a parking space which is nearly always available at that hour on either Charles Street or Beacon Street in Boston. The church is at the corner of Mt. Vernon and Brimmer Streets.

Here's a map.

So I've allowed a factor of two or more margin of safety in my trip.

That's not nearly enough. At least not today.

For some reason my google-fu cannot fathom, I-93 inbound was backed up for at least a mile (that I could actually see), all 3 lanes, southbound, going into the "lower deck" approach to the bridge over the Charles River. Standstill. Nothing moving, except a few bold souls (whom I joined after a bit) backing up 50 yards or so in the breakdown lane to get to the last exit.

By now it's already 8 and I'm going to be late. I hate being late; it says my time is more important than everybody else's and they can fucking wait while I do whatever.

I really don't know the area around Sullivan Square, so I took a wrong turn, and then another wrong turn, and finally, at around 8:15 or 8:20, I arrived on Charles St.

Neither here nor there, 3 of the 4 lanes were blocked by a huge crane they were setting up to hoist some Large Object onto the roof, but there was a friendly cop or two to wave me around it.

Turns out the crane was occupying all of the available parking spaces on Beacon Hill. There was no parking anywhere on Charles St. (all spaces filled) or around the Public Garden (posted no parking for "an event" on Sunday). The garage under the Common had a warning sign at the entrance to the effect that they might not let you out again, so I passed that by.

The event? It was a parade in honor of Greek Independence Day, marked on the BostonCalendar website as located at "Back Bay Boylston St Boston, MA 02116" which might include one side of the Public Garden (which is not really Back Bay, but hey).

If they'd told me streets would be blocked off or posted no parking last night, say, I could have planned to ride the subway.

As it was, I decided to go home. On the way, I had a change of heart and drove to Oak Grove, the northernmost stop on the subway system, a mile from my house, and rode the train in.

I arrived as the mass started. No chance of making the choir.

So the question is, how could I possibly have planned for this event? Or is it just one of those 5 sigma events you just can't plan for, and have to break promises because of?

Thinking about the frequency of this kind of thing, I can recall a number of times I had to park in Cambridge to get to a choir rehearsal on a week night. I don't think I've been unable to get to church but perhaps one other time in 15 years of living here, and attending church there, perhaps 40 trips a year (or more). So that's two out of 40 * 15, one in 300. So only 3 sigma.

When I did get there I was in no kind of mood to meet my maker (as it were), but tried to set all that aside and do what I'd come for.

When I told this story to toxicfur, she said she would have been livid, and it was a good thing she'd decided to sleep in instead of trying to go in with me.

Bottom line: Boston: you fail it. Expectations that one could use public facilities when nobody else wants them (read: early on a Sunday morning) were not met, and no explanation or warning was given. I understand inclement weather or a traffic accident or whatever, but closing streets without warning is not acceptable.

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Boston, yuo fail it. | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)
Funny. by Writer In Residence (2.00 / 0) #1 Sun Apr 25, 2010 at 08:28:14 PM EST
I used to go to church at the Opera House on the other side of the Commons, in the Combat Zone.

yeah by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Apr 26, 2010 at 12:10:15 AM EST
I remember several occasions living there when it was just endless gridlock wherever I was and realizing that getting to $cool_thing just wasn't possible. It's amazing how soul-killing that can be. Helplessness of a kind I took for granted I wouldn't ever have to deal with, I suppose.

Versus a lot of cities the traffic system isn't very resilient - there are so many common routes around town that have zero alternate routes (as in alternates that aren't, like, 3x the distance). In cities designed for cars there are almost always surface street options when the freeways and main roads aren't moving.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

Boston, yuo fail it. | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)