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Washington, Street, Wellesley:
"They call it traffic calming."

June 30, 2005, at the noon hour, Washington Street, Wellesley Lower Falls, Massachusetts, just west of the Charles River. I have come to take photos of the wide parking spaces I noticed when passing through here a few days ago. Do they promote sloppy parking? Traffic is   backed up, at a complete standstill, and I have to ride my bicycle on the sidewalk to get to the crosswalk just west of Mica Lane.

I take photos of one sloppily-parked car and I notice a police officer getting out of his car.

Extra-wide parking spaces and sloppily-parked car on Washington Street
just past Mica Lane, looking west. Door of police car opening in background.

024_22 Wellesley sloppy parking.jpg (30437 bytes)

I walk my bicycle up to the police officer and ask if he has a minute to talk with me.

The officer. He smiles!

025_23 Wellesley police officer.jpg (25613 bytes)

" Excuse me, officer, could you please explain to me why the parking spaces are so wide? Is it to narrow the travel lanes? I examine such things. Do you know, what was done here, and who did it, and why?"

"They call it traffic calming, but the drivers aren't calm. The Massachusetts Highway Department, in its wisdom, made the street narrower. Before, it came out to there [pointing]."

"Was it just two wide lanes before?"

"Yes. It used to be, if there was a fender-bender, or if the NStar truck had to park to do work on the wires, there was room for the other traffic to get by. No more. See, the traffic is all backed up now. Now we need a traffic detail."

"Yes, I can see, I had to ride on the sidewalk to get past it."

"The crosswalk used to be at Mica Lane but now it's moved and so there's a backup. They wouldn't put in a flashing signal at the crosswalk. They said that would back up the traffic too much."

"Are there more accidents now, or not as many?"

"There are more fender-benders now, but not as serious."

"Thanks. I always like to ask the experts."

"I'm not an expert."

"Well, you know the scene."

I hand him my business card. "This is who I am. Thank you again."

"You're from Waltham. That's a nice community."

"Nice but not as fancy as Wellesley. The houses are more affordable."

"I was born and brought up in Wellesley but I can't afford to live here any more. I live in Framingham."

"May I take your picture here?"



"I don't smile very much."

"You're smiling now."

"Thanks. That's perfect, with the hot dog truck and the American flag in the background."

The officer walks down to the crosswalk, and I hang around a bit longer to take some more photos.

The officer on detail at the crosswalk. Car exiting Mica Lane in foreground

026_24 Sloppy parking.jpg (31175 bytes)

The traffic is still backed up. What would improve this situation, other than a reduction in discretionary driving? I'm not sure. Suggestions are welcome.

Looking east past the crosswalk and Mica lane -- traffic is backed up, no kidding.

031_29 Wellesley crosswalk.jpg (29350 bytes)