Added: Visual nudge to merge

A few licks of paint added last July direct drivers to merge as they enter Arlington westbound from Cambridge. Are they effective?

Two arrows and a dotted line point drivers left. The markings were added in late July and were not part of the original pan for the street.

Two arrows and a dotted line point drivers left. The markings were added in late July and were not part of the original pan for the street.

The pavement markings, which were not included in the final design for the Mass. Ave. Project, suggest that the Town remains open to ironing out any kinks in the design.

The markings comprise just two  arrows and a dotted stripe marking the right edge of the right travel lane as it merges left. They were added after the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition asked for them earlier this year.

I did not think to take any Before photos—my bad—but here is an excerpt from the 100% drawings that shows how the area had been striped.

Source: Mass. Ave. Project 100% plans.

Source: Mass. Ave. Project 100% plans.

(Note that a “sharrow” marking shown for the area seems not to have been painted. There’s no bike symbol in the bike lane, either.)

Despite the new markings, many westbound drivers continue to drive partially in the bike lane, sometimes for significant distances, as they merge into the left lane. There may be an improvement, but it is not absolute.

In the past motor vehicles have sometimes impinged on the bike lane here while cyclist were in it.

The change makes the merge clearer from farther away. It was certainly worth a try, and the markings may improve driver behavior to some extent.

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1 comment so far

  1. Mark Kaepplein on

    Today in that merge area, an MBTA bus crashed into the back of a SUV, sending the driver to the hospital in a neck brace.

    So, I’d say the merge is still dangerous. What would have much safer is to keep 2 westbound lanes and no merge into one. It would have made entering Mass ave from side streets on that north side because one lane becomes a continuous stream of vehicles without breaks. Previously, vehicles spread on 2 lanes allowed more frequent breaks.

    The bus stop in front of CVS also makes traffic back up into Rt. 16 during evening commutes when two buses at a time come along and stop there. The merge area (and bike lanes) is too close to Rt. 16.


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