Boston traffic
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There is no more stressful, frustrating and exasperating activity than trying to navigate one's automobile through the nightmarish cyclone of Boston traffic. Important and wildly crowded highways are poorly designed, there are sections of the city and outlying areas that have virtually no two way streets, and the general mood of the native drivers is one part pit bull to three parts Jack Nicholson in "The Shining".

I tried New Age music. I tried a Native American dream wheel. I tried a tray full of serene-looking shells and rocks to contemplate. I tried a stress ball. I tried rose quartz, known for its calming properties. I was thinking of bringing along a pair of Chinese medicine balls to swirl around, but then figured I'd have to keep pulling over when I'd drop one. I've tried everything to relieve the stress, to no avail. I can meditate for hours; once I get behind the wheel and foray out into the madness, my hands sweat, my pulse rate soars, and I have an overwhelming urge to mount a semi-automatic weapon to my hood.

[Note to anyone planning on visiting the Boston area: leave the car at home. Please.]

General Gripes

Are cars sold in Massachusetts equipped with directional signals?
I'm not psychic. I don't know where you're going. My car is not equipped with an automatic sensor to tell me when you plan on turning. And no, it does not help when you put it on while you're turning the corner.

Rt. 95 or Rt. 128? Make up your mind.
Everyone knows Rt. 128, which goes in a circle around Boston. So how come on Rt. 93, signs for this well known highway call it "Rt. 95"? Once you take the exit and are actually on it, then the signs change to "128". But of course, by then it's too late.

Bad Road Design

Massachusetts Avenue through Harvard Square, north.
I'm somewhat appeased, since some local publication (I think it was The Boston Phoenix) finally mentioned this criminal piece of civil engineering. As they said, four lanes merge into two lanes, which merge into no lanes. Plus a pedestrian walkway, just when you think things couldn't get any more stressful. Nice work. Any time you create an impossible roadway, half of the drivers will become aggressive to battle their feelings of paranoia and uncertainty; the other half will be fearful and hesitant, making erratic decisions and movements. Not a good situation.

Rt. 93-Rt. 128 space/time continuum breach.
The Boston highway system is chock full of entrance ramps and exit ramps within 100 yards of each other, but this one especially comes to mind. Between the people trying to slow down to warp 2 to get onto 128 (which is actually 95 until you're actually on it, even thought no one ever refers to it as 95 — see general gripes), people with fear in their hearts cautiously making their way into the fray from 128, and those of us who just want to stay the hell away from it all, using the unofficial bypass route of the fast lane — it's a mess.

Fresh Pond Mall and the Rotary.
If you're coming from the Cambridge side and miss the not too obvious *right-hand* exit to make a left-hand turn, you must go around this horrendous rotary, zip right, turn the corner and dive into the entrance — and all at about 50 mph, so you don't get mowed down like grass. There's gotta be a better way. And while I'm on the subject of rotaries — I hate them. They remind me of those 'Spin Art' things, where you squirt paint down onto it while it's spinning, and the paint goes "SPLAT!" all over the place. If you hate rotaries too, don't move to Medford.

Tips & Tricks

So, you need to get across Cambridge?
Not that this is a tip or trick, but I just thought you might like to know that Walden Street, Ringe Ave., and Mystic Valley Parkway (rt. 16) are the only three streets which go across Cambridge from East to West, in a relatively straight line. And actually, Rt. 16 doesn't count, because you're basically in Arlington by that time.

Parking in the Boston area is a notorious nightmare.
However, if you can't find a space in Harvard Square, you might be able to find a space at Central Square (especially on the street behind the Harvest Co-op which runs parallel to Mass. Ave., or in their parking lot), and then take the T one stop.

Your secret weapon — the folding bicycle!
Park in one of the outlaying Park 'N Rides, take the T with your compact folding bike to the general area you want to go, then unfold and you're off! Folding bikes are very sturdy and perfect for city commuting because they're easy to stick on the front of a bus when you have longer to go than you want to pedal or collapse and bring onto the T. Plus, every Boston resident will thank you for doing your part to ease traffic congestion.

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