Sunday, April 22, 2012

Signalized Pedestrian crossing at MIT (77 Mass Ave) and NEU (Huntington- opera Place)

By Hoang Nguyen

Huntington Avenue is the main street of Northeastern University (NEU)’s campus; Massachusetts Avenue also plays the same role as a main street for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Both of the pedestrian crossings in this article are located on the main street of each campus.

#77 Mass Ave- MIT:

The pedestrian crossing is located on a 2 lanes travel street; where vehicles are traveling with a speed approximately 40 mph. With a 60 seconds cycle, Pedestrians have 7s for Walking time, and 15 seconds of Flashing Don’t Walk. This means Pedestrians only have to wait for 49 seconds to cross the road. 

As I obtained, during each “Don’t walk” period, there are around 10-20 people waiting in front of the crossing line on each side of the road. As soon as the walking signal starts they all stepped off the curb and start crossing the street. The queue used up all Pedestrian walking time, after that the waiting line was fully discharged, no one is waiting on each side. However there was few times, after the walking phase stopped, there were still few Pedestrians trying to cross the road (2-3 people), therefore they shortened the vehicle’s green time for 5 seconds. Overall, at this crossing, Pedestrians really follow the signal and there was nearly no crossing during the “Don’t walk” period.

Opera Place-NEU:

The Pedestrian crossing at Opera-Place is located inside NEU campus, and plays a role as one of the main paths to go from Main Campus to access students apartments or dormitories. This part of Huntington Ave is divided into two by the Train station in the middle of the street. Each part of the street has 2 travel lanes with a 70 seconds Cycle and Pedestrian effective green of 14 seconds. This means Pedestrians have to wait for 56 seconds to cross each part of the street. Compare to the crossing place in MIT, vehicles travel with much slower speed and with lower volume in this area (approximate 20 mph). The reasons for this are because this part of Huntington Ave is mainly dominated by Pedestrians, and also because there are some intersections with high volume of Pedestrians crossing on Huntington Ave prior to this intersection (for both travel directions).

In addition low volume and low speed of vehicle, the Train station also plays a role as a median refugee because in each direction, train comes every 10 minutes. Here, Pedestrians only have to look for 1 direction every time they cross the street and as a positive feedback to the low speed, the Train station divides the street into smaller parts and that also makes traffic goes slower since drivers now have less space to drive.  This is why Pedestrians don’t follow the signals at this crossing place, because they only need to detect a gap of vehicles long enough for them and can safely cross to the other side (crossing a two-lanes street is not a problem for Pedestrian here thanks to the low volume and low traffic speed).

The reasons why Pedestrians seem to be more obey to the signals at the MIT crossing line are because vehicles travel with high speed and people who use this crossing line are mainly students who just walk out of classes and want to cross to the other part of the school, they don’t need to hurry, therefore they have time to wait for 49 seconds. Besides at NEU’s Pedestrians crossing place, Pedestrians have to wait too long for their phase, and it is not that difficult to cross the road with low volume of traffic therefore they start crossing the street as soon as there is no vehicles approaching.

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