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Boston launches traffic-safety initiative along busy Commonwealth Ave.

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  March 18, 2013 07:06 PM

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Following a series of accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians, Boston announced Monday that it is adding prominent new pavement markings and traffic signs along a busy 1.7-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue that runs through Boston University.

The new signs include ones suggesting that motorists drive below the speed limit along the avenue, an at-times dizzying confluence of foot, bicycle, vehicular, and MBTA traffic. Aspects of the pilot initiative that show success in improving safety may be replicated along other busy streets, city officials said.

The measures are funded jointly by Boston University and the city, which began to study how to make the road safer after numerous alarming accidents, including one in which a BU grad student was killed in December after his bicycle collided with a tractor-trailer.

“What we’re telling drivers is this area of the city is different,” said Thomas J. Tinlin, the city’s transportation commissioner. “It’s the one spot in city that truly has all modes of transportation.”

Tinlin said that it’s important for “people – not just motorists, but pedestrians and cyclists as well –take extra caution, pay attention, put the phone down and be aware of your surroundings.”

The new signs, between Packard’s Corner in Allston and Kenmore Square in the Fenway, were expected to debut Tuesday. New pavement markings along the stretch are expected to be installed within the next few weeks, once the weather warms.

New signs will designate the stretch as a “high bicycle and pedestrian activity zone.” Other signs will tell drivers to “yield to bicycles when turning right” and “share the road.”

Lines marking the edge of existing bike lanes will be widened by two inches, highway reflectors will be installed along the edge of the lanes and bike lanes will continue through intersections, marked with non-skid, high visibility green paint.

While the speed limit is 30 miles per hour, signs will be posted to asking motorists drive no more than 25.

Tinlin said Mayor Thomas M. Menino is continuing to push legislation asking the state to lower the city’s standard speed limit to 25 miles per hour.

City officials say the new measures go hand-in-hand with education campaigns aimed at making drivers, cyclists and pedestrians more aware of one another. BU plans to host events on its campus this week to showcase the new measures as students return from spring break.

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