The streets of Boston are not known for being a friendly place. I have a theory (and one optimistic thought) about it that's been rolling around in my noggin for the last couple of days.
People freak out when there is a lack, real or perceived, of resources. The run on the banks during the Great Depression. The deadly rush of shoppers trying to get their hand on a Wii, or Tickle Me Elmo, or whatever. People buying up all the bottled water (as far away as Portland, ME... really) during last summer's 'aquapocalypse'. That 'survival of the fittest' instinct kicks in (even though you don't need a Wii to survive...), and it causes bad, panicky behavior in folks.
It's crowded here. More people in one area = less space per each individual person. More people trying to transport in an area = less transportation space per each individual. Can bad transportation behavior- from drivers, cyclists, and peds- can be blamed on the perceived lack of road space? I think so, at least partially. Drivers get mad at biker for 'being in the way', when it's clearly not cyclists that are causing gridlock. Cars dangerously speed by, to what? Get stuck at the next stop light. Behind another car. Bikers and car drivers get mad at buses/bus drivers for driving like jerks and being in the way, but every person on a bus is not driving a car on the road. I'd like to make it clear that there is plenty of road out there. In this case it's a perceived lack of resource. I really do believe if people chilled out, we'd all see how much space there is for all of us to share.
What about now? The snow has created less space for people to transport in. Many roads and sidewalks have been reduced to one travel lane. Are people acting any more panicked about transporting now that there actually is less road to travel on? I don't know. I think it's hard to tell. It seems like people have a little more patience these days, since travel is kind of miserable for everyone.
So then, what will happen in the spring, when more road appears? Well, here's my optimistic thought, it's probably a stretch, but I hope that everyone will realize how much road there is out there. "Oh man, it's so spacious out here. I don't know what I was thinking before- there's plenty of room for bike lanes!" Maybe this can be the silver lining of this winter- it's been such a transportation hassle, that it'll make spring seems just that much better.