Miracle on Bourne Street

December 15th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

…a very little miracle…

The signage elves came this morning. Six days after requesting a constituent service from my city councilor, it was done.

We had driving rain for two days and bitter cold for several others. Yet, my little miracle happened.

I am new to this and am impressed by John Tobin and Anna Sylvester’s work. I might conclude that he gets things done. I might also conclude that I should occasionally ask for the easily achievable. Probably both are right.

I am wont here and on other blogs to speak for high-minded and expansive aims, for righting big wrongs. I think a stop-sign replacement holds a lesson for me.

The short of this includes:

  • A couple of years ago, some driver sheared the stop sign post.
  • Rather than do the right thing, the city crew put the old sign on the street-sign pole at Bourne and Walk Hill Streets.
  • The stop sign was then obscured by the fence until Northbound drivers on busy Bourne Street were literally on it. They stopped in the intersection, blocking it and stranding left turning cars and bikes facing Walk Hill traffic bearing on them.
  • Seeing Councilor Tobin for his coffee-shop hours, I asked on the way out what city agency I should ask for a replacement.
  • He said he and his aide would do it.
  • They did.

sign.jpgI guess they came from good stock too. Sylvester sent me email saying she had requested a replacement post back 15 feet from Walk Hill were the old one was. She also mailed a hand-written note saying it was in the works. Also Councilor Tobin and I swapped a couple of short emails.

Seeing local cynics, particularly in the Herald,  I wondered whether this would become an amusing avocation. I planned to report on the progress and when the crew finally showed to photograph them and see how long it took.

Well, that’s not going to happen. Howie Carr or those other old rich kids masquerading as working-class champions aside, I rolled up Bourne this morning to see the new sign in the old place.

I watched five motor vehicles. They all did the typical Boston stop — that is rolling half a length past the stop-sign before stopping. However, because the sign is a car-length back from Walk Hill, they weren’t actually blocking people turning and were safer in spite of themselves.

I had asked for a stop line, which Sylvester said she’d request. I’m sure that would be part of a batch job when a crew is out re-striping around here next.

That would be another visual cue to stop short of where moms with strollers walk and old men such as I bike. In concert, the sign is now visible two blocks away, no longer hidden by  the privacy fence.

I view this like when I taught swimming. We learned to tell beginners to keep their legs straight in the flutter kick. The best kick is really slightly bent legged, but say that and most people would practically put their heels in the middle of their backs. It’s better to use a little trick and end up with the right thing. Likewise, a stop sign 15 feet before the street gives people the sense they are on the edge in half-way passing the sign when they are where you want them.

So, there’s no tale of a negligent Councilor. There are no absentee public works employees. There’s nothing but good to report.


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