Drivers, take notice — Cambridge police have been busy handing out tickets in Inman Square.
Officers have issued roughly 200 citations to motorists since the city made significant traffic changes last month at the notoriously busy — and extremely dangerous — intersection in the heart of the neighborhood.
Beginning Nov. 3, the city’s Department of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation eliminated left-hand turns when traveling south on Hampshire Street toward Cambridge Street eastbound; north on Hampshire Street toward Cambridge Street westbound; and west on Cambridge Street toward Antrim Street southbound.
The move is meant to improve the safe operation of the “complex intersection,” transportation officials said, as cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers do their best to navigate it each day.
As of Monday, three weeks after the changes took effect, police had conducted 47 patrols in the area, hoping to enforce the restrictions and educate drivers about them.
At first, officers mostly gave drivers verbal warnings as they grew accustomed to the sudden traffic shifts. But a total of 133 citations were issued to motorists between Nov. 3 and 18, police said.
Because the police records unit is delayed on processing the department’s citation data, the actual number of infractions is probably more than 200, police said. Each ticket carries a $20 fine.
Jeremy Warnick, a police department spokesman, said in a statement that the targeted enforcements lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on whether officers were available.
And the crackdowns haven’t let up. On Wednesday, he said, four officers were sent to Inman Square, where they issued 40 tickets to drivers.
Police said one of the biggest issues they have seen is drivers who are accustomed to the area sticking to their old habits and trying to take left-hand turns through the square.
But the changes have not come without warning. While Cambridge officials said they expected some initial confusion, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians were notified of the traffic changes through message boards, signs leading to the intersection, and updates on social media.
“We anticipate this may be a long learning curve for some, but are hopeful that new behavior is adopted as quick as possible,” Warnick said.
Changes to Inman Square’s traffic patterns have long been in the works, but they gained momentum after the death of cyclist Amanda Phillips this summer. Phillips made contact with a Jeep’s open door after apparently riding into Cambridge Street from the sidewalk, investigators said. The sudden impact pushed her into the flow of traffic.
Following the fatal crash, the City Council called on the city manager to expedite plans to redesign and rebuild the square. In the meantime, interim improvements have been made, like the elimination of left turns and new pavement markings.
Plans for longer-term improvements are still in the works, according to the city’s website.
Cyclists and researchers have put forth some ideas of their own. This week, Boston Cyclists Union president Steven Bercu proposed in a blog post turning the intersection into a peanut-shaped roundabout, that would “radically improve traffic flows” and “the community fabric of crash-prone Inman Square.”
In a blog post, Bercu said that by turning the intersection into a peanut-shaped roundabout, it would “radically improve traffic flows” and “the community fabric of crash-prone Inman Square.”
The “Peanutabout” was proposed to Cambridge officials by the Boston Cyclists Union and its consultant, Kittelson & Associates, in September, Bercu said.
“We at the Boston Cyclists Union are excited about a design direction that holds the potential not only to cure many of Inman’s traffic woes, but to yield a truly inspiring public space that reimagines Inman Square for the future,” Bercu said.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.