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YouSpeak: Crossing Comm Ave

How do you avoid bikes, cars, buses, and trains?


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Despite more than 40 signaled crosswalks between Kenmore Square and Packard’s Corner, getting from one side of Comm Ave to the other can be a perilous undertaking. Not only do pedestrians often not wait for a walk signal, they listen to iPods or read and write text messages while crossing the street. Drivers push the limits of traffic lights, and bicyclists do whatever they please. The BU Police Department reports that since January 1 this year, 23 pedestrians have been hit by cars and there were 31 accidents with no injuries and 74 accidents with injuries. Negligence, shortcuts, and impatience too often turn a necessity of life into a dangerous game.

This week, as the BUPD hosts the first-ever Public Safety Week, “YouSpeak” asks: “How do you get across Comm Ave?”

Throughout the week, BU police officers will be on hand at the GSU from noon to 2 p.m. offering bike and laptop registrations. On Tuesday and Wednesday they present Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) demonstrations every half hour from noon to 2. They will also answer any questions students have regarding the department’s services and public safety. The event is designed to raise public safety awareness on campus and promote BUPD’s Text Tipline. Students who enter the BUPD Text Tipline and emergency numbers into their phones will have a chance to win various prizes, including a mountain bike and bike lights.

YouSpeak” appears each Monday.

If you have a suggestion for a question we should ask, post it in the comments section below.

John O’Rourke can be reached at orourkej@bu.edu. Nicolae Ciorogan can be reached at ciorogan@bu.edu.


17 Comments on YouSpeak: Crossing Comm Ave

  • Steve Macchi on 11.15.2010 at 6:54 am

    Crossing Comm Ave

    I saw a suggestion a few weeks ago about building crossover walkways. I think they should be every 1/2 mile or so.

    What a GREAT idea….that would be a big step in the right direction

  • a faculty member on 11.15.2010 at 7:48 am

    Crossing Comm. Ave

    I get anxiety driving OR walking along Comm. Ave.!!!!

    The pedestrian crossing light at the corner of Amory does not allow you to get further than the median. I think this causes more jaywalking and that the timing on this pedestrian signal should be changed so that a pedestrian waits ONCE to cross all the way across the street.

    Bottom line, pedestrian bridges or under-street walkways are needed!

  • Anonymous on 11.15.2010 at 8:01 am

    Pedestrians are the WORST

    Everyone likes to complain about cars and bikes, but pedestrians are the worst.

  • Anne DiNoto on 11.15.2010 at 9:58 am

    Crossing Comm Ave

    I am a “defensive driver” whether on my bike or as a pedistrian, I’m disappointed you lumped all bicyclists together, “bicyclists do whatever they please, this could be said about cars and pedestrians too.
    40 signals: why don’t the signals give more time for pedestrians to cross? Why aren’t they coordinated with other signals, i.e. I had a go to cross Comm Ave, but then the train had a green, then had to check for another train and wait for the cross signal on the other side of Comm Ave.
    The question should be how can students help each other obey the traffic laws?

  • Anonymous on 11.15.2010 at 10:02 am

    This article seems wildly incomplete without mention of the dude who rides the oversized tricycle and makes the “waaaaaaaaaaah” sound

  • Antoine on 11.15.2010 at 10:05 am

    Can someone who can do something read this?

    Hey someone read this article by the wbur. We can be more careful when crossing the streets, but the system can be done better too. When you have a signal system that ignores the button (or seems too when it doens’t work for a very long time or only works at certain parts of the day) and there’s a red light but the signal stills says don’t walk, people start following their own discretion.


  • Anonymous on 11.15.2010 at 11:07 am

    BU Bridge Traffic Issues

    Also… why did BU Bridge right turn from Comm Ave go from 2 lanes to 1? I know the bridge is under construction, but this change is a huge factor for the congestion going on this area.

    Tax payers funded the reduction of this lane and are now paying for the police officers who have to stand there now to direct traffic? This makes NO sense.

  • Abigail on 11.15.2010 at 12:44 pm

    Crossing Comm. Ave

    Wow, this sounds like it is quite the mess over there. It is encouraging to read that there are steps being taken to remedy the safety issues. I hope it all goes well and some improvement will be seen fast.

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  • Antoine on 11.15.2010 at 12:51 pm

    Crossing Comm Ave.

    To the person about the pedestrian bridge: Not that **** again. I said before and now I’ll say it again, COMMONWEALTH AVENUE IS NOT A HIGHWAY nor it ever should be. Pedestrian bridges are made for the convenience of cars in a highway setting. I don’t think you as well as I want Comm Ave to turn into Storrow Drive.

    As for the BU Bridge thing. I agree. The bridge should remain at 2 lanes (after construction). Perhaps they will change it, but I believe the plan is making the bridge into 1 lane on each side with a bike lane. I don’t think there’s enough bikers (including after the infrastructure upgrade) to justify taking away a lane.

  • Anonymous on 11.15.2010 at 1:22 pm

    Pedestrians: Look both ways before you cross the street.
    Drivers: Realize that you must yield to pedestrians on crosswalks. It’s the law.
    Bicyclists: Just be careful and try not to run anybody over.

  • Anonymous on 11.15.2010 at 1:25 pm


    I drive on Comm Ave every day. It is only a matter of time before I either hit a pedestrian or see one get hit. They cross on green lights all the time. I will be driving along and someone walks right out in front of me, forcing me to swerve and honk at them, while they give this bewildered look. If you are going to cross on a green light at least look for traffic before you step off the curb.

  • Darwin on 11.15.2010 at 2:57 pm

    Un-natural selection

    It’s nice to know that selective forces still have some small influence in the evolution of our species. Look both ways or get culled.

  • Anonymous on 11.15.2010 at 7:06 pm

    Pedestrians, please, for the love of god: when you’re crossing the street at a green light and there are no cars coming, be aware of bikers. we might not be as big as cars, but if we hit you, it will hurt. don’t believe me? try it some time! all you have to do to ensure you will be hit is… well, keep on doing what you’re doing. carelessly cross at the green light when you don’t see any cars, while texting and sipping your starbucks. you will be hit by a cyclist one day. I can almost guarantee!

    it’s even worse when there’s a while swarm of you, and none of you are willing to move. it actually makes me WANT to hit you.

  • Allstonian on 11.15.2010 at 11:56 pm

    Pedestrians: Look Both Ways

    “Drivers: Realize that you must yield to pedestrians on crosswalks. It’s the law.”

    Actually, that is incorrect. The Pedestrian ALWAYS has the technical right of way. Drivers don’t get some sort of carte blanche to endanger a pedestrian, because they’re not crossing at a crosswalk; you must yield to them regardless.

    The flip side is, of course, that if you accidentally hit a pedestrian not in a crosswalk, the responsibility is far more on the person on foot than the driver.

    The reason I mention this though, is that the bulk of the drivers in Allston (yes, mostly students, sorry) act as if pedestrians are nothing more than inconvenient obstacles. It works both ways.

  • Anonymous on 11.16.2010 at 10:09 am

    “Drivers: Realize that you must yield to pedestrians on crosswalks.” — Incorrect/nonsensical framing. None of the crosswalks on this stretch of Comm Ave come without lights, and pedestrians are prohibited from crosswalks when they have a red light (the little red hand meaning “don’t cross”). Crossing against the light = jaywalking. The *problem* is that the lights aren’t set up to favor pedestrians; they give very little time to cross, and never enough time to cross both halves of Comm Ave. (Also, a few of the side streets have no or broken lights.) However, that doesn’t mean as a pedestrian you should cross when cars are coming. That’s just stupid. Sure, drivers have to then stop to avoid hitting you, but you shouldn’t be putting them in that position.

  • nathan phillips on 11.17.2010 at 5:37 am

    Crosswalk signal timers

    There used to be countdown timers on the crosswalk signals across Comm Ave at the Tsai Center. They were helpful for gauging time left to cross, but they are now gone, and there is a resulting guessing game being played out: people are trying to make it against the blinking don’t walk signal. The particularly dangerous aspect is if a moving car in the far lane ‘times’ the green light to maintain speed, a person who crosses in front of the stopped neighboring lane may be put in a very dangerous situation. Can we get the timers back?

  • Anonymous on 11.18.2010 at 10:12 am


    How about ticketing the jaywalkers? They do it in other states, why not here. Jaywalking is against the law too!

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