Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's a Legend

Sturban Legends
Myths and Legends from the Sturbridge Area

Almost a year ago a sign appeared on the old garage door of the new office of Dr. Gill on Route 20. It gave directions on how to park, and stated that it was "illegal" to back up onto Route 20.

Sounded a bit offbeat at the time. I had never heard of a law prohibiting one from backing out of a driveway, and onto a road. Each day I drove by, the sign bugged me more. Then last week, I wrote about the some parking practices here in town. One of the comments someone left spoke of how it is illegal to back up onto a state highway. Cripes, I live a state highway, and I 'm surrounded by houses with driveways!

Now, I had to do some research. This thing was taking on a life of its own.
How does one get out of their driveway? Does one pull up along side their home, stop, put it in reverse and back up against the traffic behind them in order to back into their driveway so they can pull out frontwards later on?

The whole premise was absurd.

So, I checked Massachusetts General Laws, at least those available online, and found no mention of a law prohibiting backing out onto a state highway. I checked the Town of Sturbridge By-Laws, and found a lot of interesting things, but nothing about backing up onto a state highway.

I was frustrated. Where did that sign on Dr. Gills door come from? Was the office told to place it there. Did someone in authority tell them to put it there, and quoted them a "law"? Or, was it just a scare tactic?

Where did the person that commented on this blog get the idea?

The mystery deepened, so I wrote to the Mass Highway Department. Their answer, via email, is below:

From: "Feedback District3"
Date: January 25, 2008 3:00:41 PM EST

Subject: RE: Parking on State Roads, and backing up

Thank you for your email. We are not aware that backing up onto a state
highway is illegal. Diagonal or angle parking is frowned on however.

Feedback District 3

So, there you have it. Nothing on record. No laws. No regulations. No by-laws.

But, it seems this diagonal parking thing is not well liked.

Whoa. Isn't this how we got to this subject in the first place? Diagonal parking in front of the Blackington Building?

Spooky. But, myths and legends sometimes are.


  1. You're right, this parking thing has taken over. Its been established that there's diagonal parking in front of the Blackington Building, frowned upon but not illegal or so it seems, but how about diagonal parking the wrong way, would that be crossi diagonal parking? I once got a ticket for backing into a parking space, of course that was under a "do not back in sign", sometimes the law can be very picky, but I digress, comes with age I think, oh yeah, now I'm back on track. Question is, is cross-diagonal parking illegal?

    Two Cents Worth

  2. Dear just thinking:

    Yes, I know you have moved on from this post however, I knew I was not wrong. So I went to the source, our Police Chief Tom Ford. We are both right. Years Back it was illegal to back out into a state highway,(Chief Ford remembers writing many such tickets) however, when the Great State of Massachusetts decided to "codify" its laws, this one, backing out onto a highway, as well as others were combined into one "driving in an unsafe manner", so today if you back out onto a highway AND cause an accident, you will be ticketed for driving in an unsafe manner.

  3. Thanks, Tom. I further addressed it in a post today.


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