Why Driving in Boston Is ACTUALLY the Worst
Every city says they have the worst drivers, but we KNOW we do. (They don’t call it a “Boston Left” for nothing.) In fact, the data actually substantiates our claim to fame, with Boston drivers submitting more than two and a half times as many insurance claims as drivers in America’s other 200 most populous cities. We think this is probably why:
There are no other motorists, no other cars, no pedestrians. Unlike in New York, where the expectations of other drivers are acknowledged and taken into account, in Boston, we simply assume that there are no other drivers on the road. If we don’t make eye contact with oncoming traffic, it totally doesn’t exist. This applies whether we’re motorists or pedestrians.
No turn signals
They’re called “blinkahs,” first of all. Second, they are purely for decoration. And sometimes to declare that we are turning… whether or not your car, dog, or house is in the way.
“The Boston Left”
Also known as the “Massachusetts Left,” it happens when two cars are facing each other at a traffic light with no green arrows for left turns. In other parts of the country, standard procedure is to allow the oncoming car (who is driving straight) to go first, and the left-turning car to follow after them. But when the line of oncoming cars is never-ending, it makes a lot more sense to swerve in front of them just before the light turns green to avoid waiting for the entire light cycle. What? I have somewhere to be.
Parking space savers
Bostonian parking practices are sorta sketchy to begin with, but in winter they verge on barbaric. In New York and Chicago, each motorist in the neighborhood shovels out one parking space, clearing the street so everyone can park as usual. In Boston, each motorist in a neighborhood shovels out one parking space and puts a large dilapidated object in it. Removing that object comes with an implicit threat, something along the lines of, “If you park here, your car will get keyed, your windows will get smashed, or I will personally light you on fire.” Bostonians don’t understand why this is patently uncivilized and continue to do it despite their elected officials’ desperate pleas to stop.
Unoriginal street names
There are 209 “Prospect” Streets/Avenues/Lanes in Massachusetts, and every neighborhood seems to have its own "Washington," "Tremont," or "Newbury," as well. But when we say “Tremont Street,” we mean THE Tremont Street, not one of the other ones. Obvi.
Because even Google’s most sophisticated technology can’t always handle this shit.
Where streets that should be one way aren’t, and we can park in any damn direction we please. Especially since our kindly Italian landlord’s sister’s friend’s brother-in-law is on the force.
The seasons, naturally
There are two seasons in Boston: winter and construction, which means that the roads are either covered in ice or ill-tempered dudes in hard hats. Never, ever expect the way to be clear.
AND Longfellow Bridge. Seriously.
The 30-minute rule
Inexplicably, what Google Maps calls an eight-minute journey will take half an hour. It takes at least 30 minutes to get anywhere… just accept it.
The Somerville Parking Authority
OK, so it’s not Boston, but what’s up, Somerville? You can’t give people tickets in their own driveways! (I firmly believe that if Somerville could legally staple a ticket to my forehead, they’d cackle while I bled.)
“Hazards? Oh, you mean the park-anywhere signal?”
If you miss your turn, you can never just circle around the block because no two blocks in Boston are parallel. So it’ll take you 10-15 minutes to get back to where you started, at which point you can easily end up in a totally DIFFERENT wrong lane, because every Bostonian intersection needs all sorts of novel turn options, none of which are easily described as “left, right, or straight.” This is probably why…
People will do anything to make their turn
Including cut across three lanes of traffic at 80mph. Without signaling.
The nice thing about rotaries is that you can stay in them until you figure out exactly which exit to take. The awful thing is that people do. And then they suddenly cut across a bunch of lanes (see above) without regard to flimsy drivers-ed concepts like “right of way” or, god forbid, signaling.
Sign up here for our daily Boston email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun the Hub has to offer.
Kim Prosise is a travel and lifestyle writer who operates a motor vehicle in our fair city. She maintains that #NotAllBostonDrivers despite daily evidence to the contrary. She has miraculously never set a space-saver on fire.