New curb extension temporarily removed

Flanked by orange and white safety barrels, men in yellow safety vests dig up the sidewalk as subervisor and police officer look on

A work crew, with police detail, removes the curb extension on Mass. Ave, by Lafayette St. earlier today.

What happens when the Bus Priority Pilot meets the Mass. Ave. Project?

On the one hand, an all-expenses-paid chance to test ways to improve the morning commute for hundreds of bus riders.

Removing the curb extension makes possible a temporary bus lane.

On the other, a hard-won improvement to pedestrian safety.

The curb extension, or “bump-out,” had been added during Mass. Ave. reconstruction at the East Arlington crosswalk where Florence Crotin died in 1996.

Crotin was struck by a car while she was crossing the street.

Touch choice in the making?

Given that the test is temporary, and the bump-out will be rebuilt next month, it is not hard to see why the Town chose to give the bus lane a try.

But what will happen if the bus lane is a roaring success? At that point the Town will have some hard choices to make.

The bump-out improves visibility and makes the crossing safer for pedestrians.

How should a faster commute be weighed against a safer crossing? Is there a rational way to make such a judgment, or will it just boil down to gut feelings and raised voices?

A crew working on the sidewal, with the Lafayette St. crosswalk in the foreground.

During the pilot program, which begins on October 9, the Cambridge-bound parking and bike lanes on Mass. Ave. will be restricted to buses and bicycles for 3 hours every weekday morning, from 6 – 9 AM.

The area of the temporary restriction stretches from just after Varnum St. nearly to Route 16.

The Lafayette St. curb extension is in the way.

There are other elements of the test, which will end on November 2.

All expenses related to the test, including daily operations and rebuilding the bump-out, are being paid by the Barr Foundation.



1 comment so far

  1. Ray Jones on

    If the bus-only lane becomes permanent, adding flexible bollards at the outside edge of the bus/bike lanes would probably be just as effective.

    During the bus-only hours, the risk of getting hit is low (not many buses). Outside of bus-only hours, it’s a parking lane, and cars shouldn’t be in it.

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