Safety last

On September 14, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

del_ponte_4_webLife in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and  do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff  or publishers)

This article first appeared in the June 10, 2009 edition of The Somerville News.

As a nosey, Somerville loving loudmouth who always adds his two cents, whether anyone wants to hear it or not, here comes about $500 worth of gripes.

It’s hard enough driving in the first place, but when a jogger is running toward you in traffic, that is just plain treacherous. First, you have to swerve away from him or her because, well, it’s a natural reaction. This poses the problem of swerving into the oncoming traffic, thus scarring the hell out of the driver in the other lane.

WHY? Why do you people want to give us drivers heart attacks? Some of you city sprinters choose to run in the middle of the two lines of traffic. This is not a smart idea either. You are obviously trying to take care of yourselves by exercising, and that’s great – but what if you get clipped by a car? They’ll be saying, “It’s such a shame he’s gone, but boy, wasn’t he in great physical shape?” You could also be the cause of a horrific car accident with drivers nervously trying you avoid hitting you and hitting other cars. It’s time you exercise nuts used some consideration and think of the safety of others while toning your bodies. You could always join a gym! There has to be a reasonable and intelligent co-existence between jogger and driver.

Now, let’s discuss you gas saving, green conscious cyclers. God love ya! Can you try to stay a little closer to the parked side of the street, please? I know it’s difficult and I’ve said it before, but please remember that it’s hard to stop our vehicles on a dime. Some of you bikers taunt us drivers, but we really are just trying not to hit you. Honest! The blinking lights and florescent strips at night really help too, thank you. When I see a bicycle heading toward me, I start sweating profusely. You are taking precious moments off of my life. Please stop trying to take me out. We have to share the road, and we all want to enjoy old age. And do I even have to mention the granddaddy of all drivers’ nightmares? It’s those cyclers who are towing junior behind them in those canvas rickshaw thingies. God help us!
Now, let’s talk about you speeders and tailgaters. Slow the hell down! There are kids everywhere. And most of you nuts who are driving like “Speed Racer” down residential streets are on your cell phones or applying make-up. Do you know why they call them cell phones? It’s because, God forbid, if you hurt someone, you’ll end up in a cell. There was an old guy years ago who would throw rotten apples at speeding cars. Ah, the good old days. And just a word to you out of state drivers who are habitual tailgaters. Haven’t you caught on yet? The closer you are to a Somerville driver’s car, the slower we go. Come on, get with the program.

One more word to pedestrians, of which I am proudly one and want to stay one: You must make sure the driver acknowledges that he sees you before you proceed into the crosswalk. I used to do this myself, but I’ve really smartened up lately. I just told you about speeders and cell phone talking drivers. Do not assume that just because it is a crosswalk that a driver is going to stop. Sometimes they are not paying attention, and sometimes the drivers are not aware that there is in fact a crosswalk. Make sure they see you!  Take that extra safe second to actually make sure the car slows down before you walk across the street. Drivers are often preoccupied and distracted by kids in the car or other things. Also, if you just dart across the street willy-nilly, tossing caution to the wind, that’s very foolish. Some cars take an awful long time to stop, even if they DO see you. If their brakes are bad, well, that just makes it worse. Believe me no driver wants to hurt a pedestrian, so please help us out. A mother or dad who is driving a mini-van full of excited kids deserves a break. Do not assume that they will see you. And bikers, lose the iPods and headphones, and pay attention.

Bottom line, let’s all strive for a safer Somerville. Drivers, slow down and get off the cell phones. Joggers and bikers, let’s co-exist in harmony. By the way, Somerville has an awesome bike path available!


25 Responses to “Safety last”

  1. PixiePocahontas says:


    You touch on some great points which many of us agree. But unless city hall decides to enforce safety buy issuing tickets to offenders, this will become standard practice by those who feel entitled to do as they please.

    But no one in the current administration wants to upset the yuppie investors who have taken over the city by storm.

    I would be happy to see law enforcement at every region of the city where this takes place and start issues tickets. That is the only thing that will stop them. Hit them in their Bank of America ATM cards where it hurts the most. Just maybe the life they save could be their own.

    Davis Square and Union Square should be first on their list.

  2. ritepride says:

    Great article. We are all included in this article, been there..done that…
    I had to take a hard look at the photo, cause at first glance it looked like Jimmy. Probaly figured he’d get better reception on his transistor radio by having a bigger antenna.

  3. Joel N. Weber II says:

    Perhaps we should eliminate parking on one side of Highland Ave and Elm Street so that we could add bicycle lanes to those streets.

    Eliminating the taxi medalion system to drive down the cost of taxis might be a good way to reduce the demand for on-street parking to facilitate that.

    (Google’s self driving car technology, when it becomes available, can also eliminate the cost of the taxi driver’s salary, and should give pedestrians crossing streets a more consistent experience if the parents who don’t have enough attention to look out the window would switch to letting that technology drive them around.)

    A Hubway station at the intersection of Cedar St and the bike path would also be a good idea. Right now, a person who lives halfway between the east end of the bike path and Somerville Hospital is going to have to bike along Cedar St and Highland Ave to get to the Hubway station by the hospital if they’re going to use the new Hubway station in conjuction with the bike path.

  4. PixiePocahontas says:


    Please do not attempt to prescribe the Beacon Street bike track proposal to Highland and Elm Street. Residents, businesses and their patrons will suffer. There are many of us who prefer not to bike and should not have it forced upon us. Are you campaigning for Hubway, Google or the mayor’s selective young adults group?

    My suggestion for the people who are inconvenienced on Highland Ave., buy not having their own private hubway station, can lower more body mass by walking to get their bikes. Inconvenience works both ways.

    Some people need taxis, they should not be eliminated.

  5. Ron Newman says:

    The suggestion was not to eliminate taxis, but to eliminate taxi medallions, so that any qualified person can operate a taxi. This is a good idea.

  6. PixiePocahontas says:


    I don’t understand. Are you suggesting that our regular taxi service be outsourced to allow anyone to operate as a “taxi”?

    Let me guess, bicycle taxi’s like they have in Cambridge and Boston?

  7. JPM says:

    Bicycling is nice. But from November to March is not really practical

  8. ritepride says:

    Common sense…Bikes should be banned from the squares period. They should have bike parking areas on both sides of the entranceways to the squares. Squares are congested enough and parked bikes interfere when incidents like fire, etc occur in the squares. When people need to make emergency exit they dont need to be curtailed by parked bikes near entranceways etc. You saw what problems/delays the barricades at the BostonMarathon created…parked bikes are another form of barricade.

  9. Ron Newman says:

    Yes, I’m suggesting that anyone who passes a test of knowledge of local streets and landmarks, and who has a good safe driving record, should be allowed to operate a taxi. There should not be a limit on the number of taxi medallions (licenses).

  10. sue says:

    And how will those taxi drivers be vetted? We have already seen problems lately with gypsy cab drivers. When you work for an established cab company, they presumably have information on you, perhaps even a CORI check. How dangerous it would be for anyone with a car to decide on Saturday night that they would be a ‘taxi’.

  11. A. Moore says:

    ritepride, you want the people who bike to have to walk all the way into the square? Next you will want to take out the bikeracks there and put in handicap parking.

  12. Commuter says:

    JPM: disagree. With the exception of days when there’s active snowfall, I’ve found it’s generally practical to bicycle March to December. I think it depends on how much money you have to invest in wind and waterproof clothes. I also suggest bright lights and reflective vests–and of course following the rules of the road!

  13. PixiePocahontas says:

    I don’t think you really understand the culture of our present taxi service.
    Whoever wants to challenge it have my blessings.

  14. Biff Jones says:

    It’s really true that the police don’t make any effort to ticket bad driving in the city. I’ve driven an embarrassingly large amount around Somerville – often at rush hour – and am constantly stunned by the fact that the same horrible intersections routinely have the same blatant red light running, time after time, with no police ticketing. Anybody waited at Magoun square at rush hour? 1/2 of Broadway runs that light.

    Pedestrians need to take some responsibility for their safety, too. They put a needless blinking red at the crosswalk on Powderhouse because a driver didn’t see / failed to yield to / seriously injured a pedestrian who lacked the common sense to make sure cars were stopping for him before stepping out in front of them. Then they stationed a cop there for months issuing the easy tickets to people who missed the traffic change. I’d argue that that cop would have been better placed at Magoun square, site of more light running & with greater speed / consequences.

    The best way to insure pedestrian safety in Somerville would be for the City to implement / enforce jaywalking fines. If I ran the world I’d ticket any driver who didn’t stop for pedestrians at crosswalks & I’d fine any pedestrian who stepped in front of a moving car expecting it to stop.

  15. Tom says:

    Ron, that would be nice in a Utopian society. Taxis, like other services need to be regulated. You need to know who is out on the streets picking up passengers. That seems like common sense to me. I agree that they should have a working knowledge of the streets, which isn’t always the case. But I’m more concerned that someone has checked their background for problems. How would you know they have a safe driving record? Would you have a national/international data base? How would you oversee their charges to be sure they are charging correctly, that they have a meter that works, etc.? Sounds like a whole new government bureaucracy to me…..

  16. Exile Ron Newman says:

    It’s really Ron “Paul” Newman. Libertarian and a bicyclist.

  17. philb says:

    Regulating the taxis is different from limiting the number of licenses.

  18. philb says:

    There is so much real estate devoted to autos. Why is it that the bike haters take *so* much umbridge at even the smallest amount be repurposed to bikes. They seem to bring so much baggage to the topic.

  19. MarketMan says:

    PixiePocahontas: By “culture of present taxi service” you mean corrupted system, then we are on the same page 😉

  20. PixiePocahontas says:


    I believe the taxi service we have in the square ride now is adequate. I’ve taken a few to the statehouse for meetings and drivers were pleasant and knew all the streets and didn’t overcharge, especially the guy with the shamrocks. $20.00 is not bad for traveling to that area of town during rush hour. This job is all they have to make a living so why should yet another long time Somerville business be driven out of town only to be replaced by what the new crowd deem as better? That is purely subjective. I still didn’t get an answer about whether it be a bicycle rider buggy, or horse and carriage, I mean what are we talking about here? Promoting not-so-smart cars or the lost revenue of zip-zip-zippadidoodaa puddle jumper? What’s the back story? I know there is one. Will they all be equipped with super google gps technology that parks the car and stops for bicyclists on a dime? I smell more promo. By the way where does all the money from Hubway go? Does the city get a cut? I hope a good percentage goes towards teaching some of these bird brains how to ride safe on city streets and not being a menace to drivers or pedestrians.

  21. Lifer says:

    A lot of bike riders are taking their life in their hands when they play chicken with Somerville drivers. Don’t underestimate the craziness of drivers.

  22. anna says:

    The funny thing is, the bikers always complain about drivers. They drive too aggressively, they don’t obey traffic laws, are distracted when driving, etc. But if it weren’t for drivers being overly careful and always on the lookout, we would certainly have at least 1 biker a day hit by a car. It’s amazing with the way bikers ride, against all traffic laws, that there aren’t more accidents.

  23. Bob says:

    As far as I can tell, everyone is at fault; everyone complains about everyone else; and no one is enforcing anything. Just yesterday, I was nearly hit twice on Highland Ave near the high school by drivers who couldn’t be bothered to notice that I was already in the crosswalk. One was on her phone, and the other just stared straight ahead pretending he didn’t see me.

  24. A.Moore says:

    I am on the road a lot in the area. Enforcement is very minimal. I watch as traffic violations are commited in front fo the policemen and they just ignore it. No turn on red is a joke. Red lights are a joke. Stop signs, may just as well as save the money and don’t bother with them. One way streets too. I don’t like the bikers on the streets, but reality is I have to drive in a manner as not to endanger them and watch out for the crazy ones, same thing with the drivers. And I bike, but not in Somerville as I want all my limbs attached.

  25. Somerbreeze says:

    Sure, “everyone is at fault’–but I’m tired of dodging the sidewalk cyclists; the cyclists want a more bike-friendly environment…but as long as cyclists use pedestrians for slalom-poles, their proclamations ring hollow and hypocritical–and they ruin it for law-abiding cyclists!

    So get a grip and GROW UP!

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