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I live in a fairly desirable area with one drawback: my apartment overlooks a multi-lane restricted access parkway. I'd prefer not to say more for privacy reasons. Until recently, it's been only a minor annoyance.

But since things have been locked down due to the coronavirus outbreak, I've been spending a lot more time at home, and the traffic on the parkway has gotten lighter, meaning that at least anecdotally speeds have increased. The result is a huge increase in infrasound. It's like my whole apartment is shaking all day.

I'm obviously not expecting the state to shut down traffic on the road completely for my comfort. It does seem like a reasonable expectation that the people driving on a roadway should get at least close to the legal speed limit, however. The posted speed on the road is 30 miles per hour, while drivers routinely flout this going 60 or 70 miles per hour.

I've already tried writing to my city government, who referred me to a state agency who hasn't written back. I've also contacted the person who represents me in my state legislature. His office too has not written back to me.

What's the most effective way to get my argument to a decision maker? Would I be better served addressing this complaint to the police department with jurisdiction over the roadway? Would I be better served organizing my neighbors and then returning to my state legislator with more of a coalition?

(I live in Boston, Massachusetts.)

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    Interesting sub-question here - does a party have a right for the law to be enforced on another parties infractions? – Moo Apr 5 at 22:45
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    The title seems sort of misleading. Saying you want to contest the restrictions sounds like you want to have the restrictions invalidated or changed. But from the text of the question, it sounds like you're fine with the speed limit as it stands, and you merely want the police to enforce it. – Nate Eldredge Apr 5 at 23:32
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    "The posted speed on the road is 30 miles per hour, while drivers routinely flout this going 60 or 70 miles per hour" that suggests to me the limit is wrong. – Andy Apr 6 at 0:22
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    It's easily possible to do 60 miles on the road I live when the limit is 35. That doesn't make the limit wrong, there are a huge variety of factors that determine the best speed for traffic, and "can vehicles actually do it?" is never one of them. @Andy – Nij Apr 6 at 6:44
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    @Nij If a majority of drives do, yes, it does make the limit wrong. Engineers are supposed to set limits based on the 80% percentile rule. Most drivers are actually really good at determining what is safe on their own. – Andy Apr 7 at 0:47
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I see that this question has been migrated from Politics.SE, but I'd argue that's the better forum for this question. We're talking about finding a way to enforce the law, but the options available to you are pretty solidly in the political category.

What you're doing is probably the best way to go. The state government is unlikely to do much, so stay on top of your local government.

Communicate directly with the police, as many departments will make a point of setting up patrols in areas where they get complaints.

On top of that, get as many people as you can to support your cause. The more noise they make, the harder it is for the government to ignore the problem. Circulate petitions, make calls, etc.

At the same time, keep in mind that this problem is a side effect of an emergency situation that is causing all sorts of problems that make yours look trivial by comparison. Do not be surprised if emergency personnel conclude that this is too low priority to address, even if it is remarkably inconvenient to you personally.

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A multi-lane road that is posted at 30 MPH, and people regularly go 60-70 miles per hour?

Are there many accidents?

If not, I would argue that everyone is wasting twice as much time on that stretch of road than they should, and perhaps the police tacitly agree. Police officers don't like to enforce laws that don't negatively affect public good (such as people j-walking on streets with little traffic). Most highways have people regularly going 10 miles over the speed limit with little concern for getting pulled over. If it is a dangerous area for speeding, they will crack down more.

And then there is the major factor of coronavirus which is actually causing you to experience an issue with the speeding. The trouble is that your complaints are a lower priority for police who also likely aren't too keen to be pulling people over unnecessarily right now, and city officials who aren't even in their offices to hear your complaints.

If this was a small neighborhood street, a traffic calming section or rumble strips would slow things down, but it isn't, and it sounds like this problem will resolve itself much faster than government will solve it when coronavirus becomes a thing of the past, and your Boston parkway becomes its typical snarl of traffic that doesn't rumble the neighborhood anymore.

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  • I assume the speed limit is not to keep drivers safe, but to keep noise levels down in the neighbourhood. – gnasher729 Apr 12 at 9:02
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Become a police officer

Law enforcement has wide discretion about which laws they enforce and which they let slide. This can be done institutionally, with police departments choosing to make this month "crackdown on X month", and individually. So long as this is not done in a way that unlawfully discriminates this is what the law expects of the enforcement branch.

If you continue to complain, you might influence the decisions that LEO take and they may choose to enforce speed limits on this stretch of highway more rigorously. Or they might not. It's your right to agitate, it's their right to acknowledge or ignore your agitation. Essentially, this aspect of your question is political, not legal. I would migrate it back to politics if I could but migration is a one-way thing - you might want to narrow your question to focus on the politics of law enforcement and try again over there.

Or, you could become a police officer yourself and then you get to decide - subject, of course, to the fact that you have superiors who you are obliged to obay. Of course, this might be a bit of an overkill.

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