Give me a Sign! (Never Mind. Just fix the ones we have)

Parking Madness

Personality: Oh, what people put on, do to or do in their cars!



Let's Play "What's My Lane?"

Updated 2005-05-02
The images shown here are original, unaltered photographs taken in generally public places. All comments are strictly the personal opinion of the photographer. No photographs or comments are misleading, or known to be false.

Cambridgeside Place at Edwin Land Blvd., Cambridge, MA - 2005-03-29

I wish most intersections had dashed lines like these to help drivers keep in their lane while making turns.

Well... not really like these. These are truly screwed-up! It figures that the one place you find these lines, they botch the job.

The left lane starts shifted too far to the left. Drivers in the left lane don't know whether to swerve left at this island so as to keep in the left lane, or (as usually happens) to take the more "natural" curve (that usually happens to put them in the same lane as the traffic next to them).

Click to view QuickTime™ Video


Click to view QuickTime™ Video

Okay, this is a horrible drawing.

To begin with, I don't like traffic circles. But I REALLY don't like two-lane traffic circles. There's just no way they can work and no way any driver can properly navigate one. I'm always astonished when a driver in the inner / left lane of the circle swoops across my bow to leave the circle while I'm in the outer / right lane and staying in the circle.

Anyway, the reason this is here is because of the mysterious, sudden and dangerous disappearance of a lane immediately upon exiting the circle onto Concord street, toward Belmont.

Incidentally, the city of Cambridge spent a very, very long time rebuilding this rotary. I'm not sure why, since it is every bit as bad as before the "improvements."



Click to view QuickTime™ Video

Another horrible drawing.

Here we have a further example of two bad situations in one horrible intersection.

The three-lane road enters the intersection as it curves to the left. Unfortunately, on the other side of the intersection is only a two-lane road. Ant it is not easy to tell from the right lane as you're crossing the intersection that your lane no longer exists.  


Click to view QuickTime™ Video

Another curvy lane drop.

This time, your hapless motorist is attempting to pass a pickup truck by crossing the dashed white lines.

Suddenly, the two-lane road becomes a one-laner, and the pass is aborted. Safely, this time.

Wouldn't it make more sense that if the lane was about to disappear, it should be a solid white line instead, indicating that it is NOT appropriate to pass here?


Click to view QuickTime™ Video

I really, really hate to cross the yellow line. But unless I'm driving a motorcycle, I can't keep on my side of the street in places like this. Honest... this really is a two-way street! 

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How is anybody supposed to tell whether the road they are on is one lane or two, when there are no lane divider lines and the white pavement marking to the right keeps changing distance from the yellow center line?


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Cheers! - Where nobody knows their lane. Watch in amazement as a busy four-lane road suddenly and without warning becomes only three. Marvel at the confusion this causes motorists who now can not tell whether their lane swerves to the left or to the right... and whether they agree with the driver of their neighboring vehicle.

Click to view QuickTime™ Video

Formerly funky Kenmore Square is one monsterous five-way intersection of several major two-way multi-lane roads. Yet there's hardly a lane marking to be seen.


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Not enough lane markings? Nope. Too many lane markings. Why in the world is there this yellow hashed area next to this curb, preventing me from changing sooner into the left lane to make my turn? This is not only a waste of paint, but also a point of frustration for me, as I watch other drivers ignore yellow lines such as this.

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Two green lights outweigh one red light, right? Am I the only driver that seems slightly alarmed and confused at this?

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This intersection on Mountfort Street, near Boston University, is atop a rise, such that approaching the intersection with St. Mary's, drivers can not clearly see lane markings on the other side. Unfortunately, this intersection also suffers from bad lane marking misalignment, causing severe risk of collision with oncoming traffic.

Highland Ave., Needham, MA - 2003-08-04


The sign does NOT say "Left Lane for Left Turn ONLY."

The pavement markings indicate traffic in the left lane can turn left or go straight.

You would never make a left turn from the right lane here anyway.

Why is this sign here?

Highland Ave., Needham, MA - 2003-08-20

...and then what should they do?

(Actually, most bicyclists don't stop anywhere for red lights. What's all this about stopping for a green light?)


Center Street at Commonwealth Ave., Newton, MA - 2004-08-23

No... not yet!

This first of two signs tells drivers they must turn right... onto this side street, evidently.

St. James St., Newton Corner (Newton), MA - 2004-09-19

Which to believe?

The double yellow lane markings or the "one-way" sign?

Warren Street at Cambridge St., Brighton MA - circa, 1988

Which to believe?

The double yellow lane markings or the "Do Not Enter" sign?

I called the DPW on this one... and fast!

Alley off Harvard St., Allston (Boston), MA - 2004_09_13

That's nice.

There's no way to know that this is a one-way alley when turning into it from Harvard Ave. until it's WAY too late, because this arrow is painted so far into the alley.

Not to worry: Nobody will be coming the other way, with this parked car blocking the entrance. But you may be stuck there for a while.

Shopping Plaza, Pembroke, MA - 2004-09-29




(Things your brain should NOT be saying to you while you're driving).

Everett Street at Western Ave., Allston (Boston), MA - 2005-04-06

What left lane?

I KNOW there used to be a left lane here. I have driven this road a lot over the years. But for a very, very long time, not only have the center lane markings disappeared, but so have the lines that would indicate (especially to oncoming traffic) that there is a middle left turn lane.

I've nearly been run into by other vehicles that were crossing toward me or turning through this somewhat sharp corner... when my car is stopped in or approaching the turning lane from this direction.

Most other drivers treat this as just a very wide one-lane road. It is not, and it is very dangerous when drivers disagree on where the lanes are when the lines are absent.

Western Ave. at Everett Street, Allston (Boston), MA - 2005-04-06

Same intersection... different direction.

After months of not having any lines painted anywhere on this whole stretch of road, the lines have finally been re-painted.

Are they done? I don't know.

There used to be a "Left Turn Only" lane in this direction. I don't see it back here yet. Does that mean they've changed the design of this intersection or just aren't done painting lines?

All through the months during which this road and this intersection had no lines painted, I continued to drive through this intersection as previously marked; keeping to the right as I went straight (although unfortunately the drivers to the left, not seeing aleft turn only lane, usually went straight as well).

Which one of us would be considered driving incorrectly? That would be easy to answer if the lines were there and if roads did not go unpainted for so long or unpainted ever.


Nonantum Road, Allston-Watertown, MA - 2004-08-20

How Many Lanes? 


Nonantum Road, Allston-Watertown, MA - 2004-08-20

One Lane?

Nonantum Road, Allston-Watertown, MA - 2004-08-20


Nonantum Road, Allston-Watertown, MA - 2004-08-20

Three, maybe?



Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2004-08-20

Looks like a typical wide one-lane road...

...but apparently it isn't.


Commonwealth Ave. Inbound side road at Harvard Ave.,
Allston (Boston), MA - 2004-08-20

 How Many Lanes? 


Harvard Ave., Allston (Boston), MA - 2004-08-20

 How Many Lanes?


Cambridge Street., Allston (Boston), MA - 2004-08-21

 How Many Lanes?


Harvard Ave. at Brighton Ave., Allston (Boston), MA - 2004-08-20

I thought this was a one-lane road. Unless of course it's a three-lane road, with one lane turning left, one lane going straight and another lane turning right.


Cambridge St., Allston (Boston), MA - 2004-08-20

This is a one-lane road that turns into a two-lane road... I think.


Everett, MA - 2005-03-30

Just in case you don't get this one... those cars are PARKED against the curb and the remaining pavement between them and the yellow lines is what I'm supposed to drive my car down.

Maybe I should buy that Mini Cooper after all!

North Harvard Street at Western Ave., Allston (Boston), MA - 2005-04-07

Only... WHAT?!?!?

Shaws Supermarket (formerly Star Market), Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA - 2003-07-11

Why even bother painting arrows that are going to cause an accident???

South End neighborhood, Boston, MA - 2002-08-31

No parking spots? No problem! (How is this POSSIBLE?!?)

Chestnut Hill Ave., Brookline, MA - 2002-09-09

Massachusetts is full of such "Roadway Free-for-Alls" as I call them. This occurs when two lanes (or more!) mysteriously merge into one without advance notice (i.e., without a 'Merge Left' or 'Merge Right' or 'Yield' sign of any kind). This frequent absence of not only forewarning but also instructions results in mayhem, as drivers in both lanes figure out what to do. Usually, both drivers act as if the other driver is supposed to yield.

Above, this less common sign instructs motorists to 'Form (a) Single Lane,' but leaves it up to the drivers to negotiate who yields and who doesn't -- EACH AND EVERY TIME!

Just to let the world know: In cases like this, I stay in the left lane and follow the yellow line. That way, I know it isn't MY lane that's disappearing, so it's up to the driver in the right lane to yield or SIGNAL that they wish to join my lane.

Chestnut Hill Ave., Brookline, MA - 2004-10-11

Yes... same intersection and "Form Single Lane" sign.

I don't know how long this intersection has looked like it does now, and if it has changed since the first photo in 2002.

What's particularly bizarre here is that at least the way it is now, there is no need for this sign, because there is no more merging of two lanes into one. The right lane is a "Right Turn Only" lane.

Chauncy St. at Concord Ave., Cambridge, MA - 2001-09-18

Conflicting signals: A one-way street with double-yellow ("two-way") center pavement markings.

And to top this off, there are plenty of so-called two-way streets that aren't as wide as this one-way street. I see a lot of streets in the Boston area that are supposedly two lanes, but with legally parked cars blocking more than half of one or BOTH lanes!

Route 60 at Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, MA - 2002-04-06

Three lanes. Three traffic signals.

And I know I'm not the only one that's confused by the conflicting indications here. Many drivers continue straight in the right lane when the green straight arrow appears.

There should not be a straight arrow in the right lane if the signs are to be believed.

There's a similar situation at the opposite side of this intersection, only by the time drivers see the pavement markings that indicate right turn only in the right lane, it's too late. The pavement markings aren't easily visible as you crest the rise just before this intersection.

North Beacon St., Brighton, MA - 2001-11-17

File this under "Unclear on the Concept," but also under "typical."

I always wonder about it when the driver at the stop line ahead of me continues to roll slowly forward for as long as thirty seconds during a red light. And then when the light turns green, they're often slow to get moving.

Winter St., Waltham, MA - 2001-10-01

It seems the town of Waltham and Lincoln can't agree on whether the road is one way or two way.

I got caught in this trap, but good. THERE'S NO WAY OUT ONCE YOU PASS THE DOUBLE YELLOW LINE!

U.S. Post Office - Edinboro, PA (16412) - 2001-07-30

This is my old home town's new post office. On my first visit there recently, I drive into the parking lot and turn right, following the arrow pointing to spots in front of the building.

It wasn't until I tried to leave that I discovered the pickle I was in. Notice the "Do Not Enter" sign opposite the arrow pointing directly toward it.

Shaw's Supermarket (Formerly Star Market), Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, MA - 2000-11-14

This parking lot is incredibly botched. For starters, there are contradictory traffic arrows that direct vehicles toward each other. This sign also directs traffic to the right of the island, while the arrows direct traffic to either side.

There are two exits next to each other with their own problems. Although clearly marked "do not enter" on the other side, motorists continue to enter through one of these two exits. The real entrance is around the corner. Furthermore, for some reason, motorists continue to make left turns onto the main street from the right side of this exit, and right turns from the left side of this exit.

Sure, more signs might not help, but still the traffic patterns and markings here could be improved. This would decrease confusion and reduce the 'anarchy' caused by motorists interpreting vague directions incorrectly or ignoring them altogether.


Washington St., Brighton / Watertown, MA - 2000-11-21

I keep seeing pavement markings written backwards. "Ahead Stop" is another one I often see. Why?

Commonwealth & Brighton Aves., Boston / Brookline, MA - 2000-12-13


What does Boston do with an already hazardous complex intersection? Add confusing and contradictory directional arrows, of course. I think I'm just going to go nuts here! (And I keep complaining that there aren't enough lines painted on the road!)

I got the Streets Department to fix this, and fast.

While I'm on the subject. My number one pet peeve about pavement markings is that there is usually no advance warning that you are in the wrong lane for where you want to go. By the time you can tell which way the arrow points as it peeks out from under the car in front of you, it's too late to change your course. Another good reason for redundant post signs to accompany the pavement markings!


Central Parking's Kinney System Parking Lot, Malden Center - 2000-01-20

No Way Out!

Aside from being run by surly attendants, what's really dumb about this commuter parking lot is that there is only one way in, and no way out! The only way into the lot is a one-lane access, marked with arrows pointing that way. I parked there, but when I tried to leave, I circled around inside the lot twice looking for the nonexistent exit. Apparently, customers are supposed to go the wrong way out, the same way they came in... heading straight into traffic entering the lot!

Highland Ave., Malden - 1999-09-13
Would someone in the Malden Streets Department kindly explain this?

And while we're on the subject... Hey, Massachusetts: How about installing "Merge" signs? I don't like to suddenly find my lane has disappeared without notice, or that traffic in the lane next to me is suddenly trying to push me over (usually without even signaling).


Give me a Sign! (Never Mind. Just fix the ones we have)

Parking Madness

Personality: Oh, what people put on, do to or do in their cars!





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