“So that’s what the speed limit feels like.”

I was in a car driving westbound on Storrow Drive the other weekend day, and something just wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong – it wasn’t anything obvious. Then someone came out with this post’s title and it all made sense.
We were, indeed, stuck behind some grandparents in a Buick driving exactly under the speed limit of Storrow Drive. It was very strange driving along that all-too familiar stretch of roadway and actually be able to watch all the pedestrians in their leisurely walks along the river.
For those who aren’t local, Storrow Drive is basically a narrow, two late, limited access, divider-in-the-middle local road that’s masquerading as a highway, that wends and winds it’s way along the Charles River into the very heart of Boston. And when I say wends and winds, I mean frequently, sharply, and in three dimensions. Memorial Drive does exactly the same thing on the Cambridge side of the river, except it has stoplights. New Yorkers familiar with Saw Mill River Parkway will know what I mean. As a friend once said, Storrow on weekends is like the world’s biggest driving video game – except you only get one quarter.
As most locals know, the bell curve average speed on Storrow Drive & Soldiers Field Road is significantly higher than the posted limit – at least during non-rush hours. Sure, there’s the occasional driver who slows down for the tricky curve, or hits the sunken spot of pavement, and slows down for a bit. But we were stuck at the limit for quite a while as everyone else switched lanes and passed us at a more, um, normal speed. It was an interesting perspective on the usual rate of life for that part of Boston.


Here’s a quiz to test how much you actually do pay attention: what is the posted speed limit on Storrow? No fair peeking, just answer as soon as you read this post.

7 thoughts on ““So that’s what the speed limit feels like.”

  1. On Soldier’s Field Rd, the parkway that turns into storrow drive, the speed limit is 35 and apparentley posted. I got a $210 ticket yesterday for going 56mph. The fine is fair for that speed assesment, but I wans’t going faster than any other driver. I was pulled over by an unmarked state trooper who checked off “estimated” and “lidar” on the citation. I’m fighting it. if i were traveling at 35mph, i probably would have received a ticket for obstructing traffic. Stupid quotas.

  2. Ha! Posted speed – at least on the stretch that I was behind the grandparents – was 40 mph outbound; I’m pretty sure it’s posted that way throughout.

    @Sander and @Jo: yes, Storrow is a local treasure. At least to those who grew up with it. It’s like much of Boston and driving – if you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t be driving here.

    @Ben: what time are you driving Rt 16 by Alewife the traffic isn’t heavy? After midnight? Agree on the wild 16 ramps over/beside 93 – the NB one is just wierd – waaaay to much space for 3 marked lanes, that suddenly is painted to split into one roadway (to Meffa Sq) and the continuation of 16 with the crosswalk’s “Signals timed to require frequent stops” stoplight.

    @Jill: ah, 50, that would be nice. Nope.

    @jb: There’s a great quote on the NMA site if you google “unreasonable speed limit Lincoln” about DCL’s home town too.

    As fast as holes in traffic, or on the road?

  3. hmmm. I think the speed limit’s 50 on Storrow. (Or should I say, “speed limit”?)

    It’s been a while since I’ve driven it – I do take quite a few taxis on it these days: Logan to Watertown.

  4. Storrow Drive taught me the meaning of limited access highway. The entrances onto it are cleverly hidden and the weird exit lanes will throw you off of it unless you are paying very close attention. It’s an perverted yet elegant solution to providing a good transport solution to local residents that is not crowded by thru traffic or tourists. Mainly because you have to have tried to use it several times before you get the hang of getting on, and staying on, it.

  5. There has been a lot of mission creep along our parkways; not a lot of picnicking taking place along them anymore. I’m sad that we recently transfered control of the parkways from the park commission to the highway people. Rt 16/Alewife brook parkway is interesting because if you drive the speed limit all the lights are perfectly synchronized; so if the traffic’s not to heavy almost never have to stop. The low speed limits on many roads around town have got me thinking I could actually drive one of those death trap “neighborhood cars” all the way to work. In anycase Storrow’s 40mph, and Memorial’s 35mph; i think. The one that really drives me crazy is the exit off 93 outbound heading over onto Rt 16; empty – 4-5 lanes superhighway and 40mph or something.

    I think every time I’m driving past the hbs outbound, going 60, around that blind corner, six cars packed too tight, that sooner or later a horrible accident is gonna happen.

  6. Well, to tell you the truth I always go waaay too fast ovah thehe to make out the speed limit signs. Are there even any in place? However I’d assume the local limit is an unrealistic 35 Mph. Perhaps even 40.

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