Boston University kicks off new bike safety measures on Commonwealth Avenue

Cyclists near Boston University should notice some improvements along Commonwealth Ave. Photo Credit: ERIN BALDASSARI/BOSTON METRO.
Cyclists near Boston University should notice some improvements along Commonwealth Avenue. Credit: Erin Baldassari/Boston Metro

Boston University and city officials announced a new bike safety initiative Monday to help protect pedestrians and ease traffic along the 1.5 mile-long campus stretch on Commonwealth Avenue.

The measures aim not only to protect cyclists and pedestrians, but also to encourage bike use, and promote awareness of cyclists and pedestrians among drivers, according to city officials. They will include new signage, enhanced bike lane markings and highway reflectors in the pavement.

“I am hopeful that these changes will help protect bicyclists and pedestrians traveling along this very busy stretch of Commonwealth Avenue,” said Boston University President Dr. Robert A. Brown. “I also am extremely grateful for the city’s continued support of bike-safety initiatives that safeguard all people who use the city streets that pass through our campus.”

The changes stem from recommendations by a Boston University and City of Boston working group convened at the urging of Brown and Mayor Thomas Menino after a series of bicycle collisions, including the death of a BU student in December.

Working in coordination with the city’s transportation commissioner, Thomas J. Tinlin, and director of bicycle programs, Nicole Freedman, BU helped propose safety measures that the city will implement as a pilot program on the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue between Kenmore Square and Packard’s Corner — Boston’s first location for bike lanes — with the potential to expand to other areas of the city with high bicycle traffic.

They include:

  • Posting of advisory/cautionary signs designating the stretch as a “high bicycle and pedestrian activity zone”; 25 mph speed limit signs; “yield to bicycles when turning right” signs; and “share the road” signs.
  • Installation of enhanced bike lane pavement markings. Each bike lane intersection will be painted using non-skid, high-visibility green paint and the width of bike lane edge markings will increase from 4 to 6 inches. White bike sharrow pavement markings within the green paint area will be added at busy intersections. In areas that have long crossings, multiple sharrows will be painted.
  • Installation of highway reflectors on the pavement along the outside edge of bike lanes between intersections, and more closely spaced in advance of each intersection crossing.

“The City of Boston has worked hard to ensure that cycling is a viable option for traveling on our local streets,” Menino said. “In 2008, we installed the first 4.5 miles of bicycle lanes, and today we offer more than 58 miles of on-street accommodations for cyclists. Wayfinding signs that guide cyclists to our more popular destinations have been posted, and in 2011 we launched Hubway that has provided 600,000 trips for those who rent the more than 600 curbside bicycles available through this program.”

He continued, “As a result of these efforts, bicycle commuting ridership increased 82% in Boston from 2007 to 2011, and ensuring safety for all of these cyclists is a top priority in the city. For this reason, I am very pleased to be partnering with Boston University on this Commonwealth Avenue safety initiative. I expect that this program will result in keeping BU’s cycling community safe on this busy roadway.”

The university also will host an event when students return from spring break to showcase the new measures. That will continue the ongoing bike-safety education and awareness efforts under way since 2008, which have included skills classes, commuter workshops, bike and pedestrian safety days, on-campus posters, widespread distribution of safety tips, and giveaways of some 15,000 bike-safety related items including helmets, flashlights, bicycle lights and reflectors.

“Cycling is a terrific transportation option for students inBoston,” said Tinlin, the transportation commissioner. “Like the MBTA, it is inexpensive and convenient, can get you anywhere that you need to go in the city and doesn’t require an on-street parking space. BTD consistently encourages students to leave their cars at home when they are heading to Boston for the academic year, and this new bicycle safety initiative is yet another incentive for students to follow this advice.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


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