Thursday, April 22, 2010

Median Refuges, Concord Ave at Fayerweather and Fern Streets, Cambrige, MA

Submitted by HANGJUE LI

Concord Avenue is a two-way two lane local street with one side parking going through a residential area, located in Cambridge, MA. Concord Avenue is a busy street, many vehicles go through this street, and there also three bus routes passing here.

Fayerweather St. @ Concord Avenue is a four leg intersection, and Fayerweather St. is a one-way Street on north side of concord Ave. There is a very wide curb extension on Concord Ave, which is narrowed a lot. The median refuge at west side is a half raised and half rumble strips central island.

The half of the rumble strips of the median refuge is closed to the intersection. It is quite accessible to the left turning vehicles, especially for heavy vehicles. The rumble strips make the northbound left turning vehicles slow down to adjust to the sharp corner of the median refuge. When there is a large SUV or heavy vehicle turning left, the inside tire could run on the strips for easy turning. The sign on the median assists motorists noticing the median refuge from a long distance, and motorists could drive around it properly.

Pedestrians’ exposure has been improved a lot. It is easier to get a gap for pedestrians to cross street for both narrowing the street and adding median refuge. Not only is a smaller gap is needed, but also pedestrian only need to concern on side of the traffic when judging a gap. It is a huge benefit to older and younger pedestrians.

Overall, it is a pretty good design. The median refuge slows down the traffic and enhances pedestrian safety.

However, the median refuge on the east side is not as good as the one above. The whole media is built by rumble strips. Concord Ave has been also narrowed on this side. There is no signs and raised up design on this median, but there is sign to show that the curb extension on the road side. The median’s color is almost the same as the road. Most of the drivers could not see the median until they are so closed to it, but they can see the curb extension and its sign. Thus, most of motorists never drive around this median, and they just drive straightly closed to the median, inside the yellow line. It is unsafe to stand on this median as a pedestrian. Pedestrians still need to judge the two way traffic gap to cross the street.

Some improvements should be made on this median refuge, for enhancing both motorists’ visibility and pedestrian safety. It could refer to the west side median, rising up half the median, which forces drivers to driving around the median, also adjusting to the turning vehicles. A median refuge sign is also recommended, which make drivers notice it on a farther distance.

The other intersection has median refuge near Alpine St. is Fern St @ Concord Ave. Here is a T intersection. Fern St. is a two lane one way (northbound) street. There are two median refuges on both side of the Fern St. A bus stop locates at this intersection, and many pedestrians cross the street to reach the bus stop.

The two medians on both side of the street have the same design. At this intersection, the curb is also extended, and Concord Ave becomes narrow. It successfully reduces pedestrians’ exposure and turning vehicles’ speed. It also benefits pedestrian safety a lot. Due to Fern St. is a one way street, there is no vehicles come out of it, and the median refuge do not need to take turning vehicles' accommodation into consideration. The whole median refuge could be raised up.

There are varieties of signs around this intersection. Two “median”, two “pedestrian”, a “curb extension”, a “no stopping” and a “bus stop” signs locate in a couple of feet. There are also a one way sign and a street name on the other side of the road, and a “median” sign on the median refuge. These signs may overload and distract motorists, especially older drivers. The signs could be reduced properly to relax drivers. For instance, the two “median” signs on the road side could be moved away. Concord Ave. is not a high speed street, and it is believed that it is only necessary to leave the signs on the median refuge to remind motorists driving around.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you about unnecessary signs. Maybe the City felt they needed them to get drivers used to the change, and they'll be removed after a while.

    Your remarks seem to show that a curb extension got in the way of the median refuge being fully effective. This is a valuable lesson.

    Observations about pedestrians using the crosswalk would have made the analysis stronger.