Saturday, April 21, 2012

In-street "Yield to Pedestrians" Stanchions in Brookline, MA

By: Joseph Arroyo

In-street stanchions are signs placed in the middle of the street at unsignalized intersections that bring attention to pedestrian priority when crossing.  These signs are usually a bright reflective color so that they can be clearly seen during the day or at night.  In-street stanchions are also collapsible, so that if vehicles should accidentally run into them, they won't cause any damage to the vehicle or have to be replaced.

St. Paul Street at Parkman Street Brookline, MA
Google Maps Link
The stanchions provide pedestrian priority when crossing the street through the use of a state law.  This state law says that vehicles must "yield to pedestrians within [the] crosswalk."  Using words like "state law" on a brightly colored sign in the middle of the streets train drivers to stop for pedestrians in order to avoid fines.  Although most drivers probably don't stop to read what the stanchion says, they will at least recognize that this sign must be something important if it is a bright green color in the middle of the street; this makes their use effective.  

Pedestrians crossing at a sidewalk protected by an in-street stanchion
Location: Longwood Avenue at Marshal Street Brookline, MA
Google Maps Link
Because the stanchions are placed right in the middle of the intersection, they create a traffic calming effect.  The placement of the stanchion makes the intersection seem narrower, which effectively causes vehicles to travel at lower speeds.  This effect is magnified on narrow streets because it pushes vehicles towards the sidewalk, which causes them to slow down even more. 

In-street stanchion making a narrow street seem even more narrow
Location: Davis Avenue at Emerson Street Brookline, MA
Google Maps Link
In my opinion, in-street stanchions have a more visible traffic calming effect in narrow streets.  When I was making the observations necessary to complete this blog entry, I noticed that vehicles travelling on the first location I went to (St. Paul Street) really didn't slow down much when they encountered an in-street stanchion.  I believe this to be the case because the street was really wide, with parking allowed on both sides of the street.  The vehicle I was being driven in also didn't slow down when crossing the sidewalk because the stanchion wasn't really taking up enough space in the intersection.  I was able to watch this behavior for a good amount of time because St. Paul Street had a steady volume of vehicles coming off Commonwealth Avenue through this street.  

Video footage of vehicle motion through a wide street with an in-street stanchion:
More images showing different in-street stanchions:
Longwood Avenue at Marshal Street Brookline,  MA
Google Maps Link

Longwood Avenue at Marshal Street Brookline, MA
Google Maps Link
Multiple in-street stanchions (Davis Avenue @ Emerson Street Brookline, MA)
Google Maps Link

St. Paul Street @ Browne Street Brookline, MA
Google Maps Link

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