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Vassar Street project:
Suggested alternate proposal

document prepared by John S. Allen, March 5, 2002

The proposed elimination of angle parking west of Massachusetts Avenue and of parallel parking elsewhere increase available travel width and are desirable in terms of improving traffic flow. However:

  • The proposed 5-foot "cycle tracks",  should be eliminated, and the width that they would occupy should instead be part of the street. Over much of the length of the project, this means that the existing curb lines can be maintained, or that the curb need be moved on only one side rather than both, at a very considerable cost savings.Width of travel lanes and parking lanes should meet AASHTO guidelines; the street width should be reduced only where it can continue to meet these guidelines.

  • Bicycle lanes, if delineated, should conform to AASHTO guidelines regarding intersection treatments. In particular, a bicycle lane to the right of a designated right-turn lane contradicts the AASHTO guidelines and instructs motorists to turn right from the left lane, in violation of the traffic law (MGL  ch. 90 14). At the West Garage or the Building 39 portal, bike lanes also should be dashed or discontinued, as there is heavy right-turning traffic at these locations. Bike lanes should not pass behind truck loading areas or parked vehicles.

  • Traffic signal timing should reflect AASHTO guidelines for bicycle traffic.

  • MIT should encourage helmet use and use of lights at night, by undertaking a program in cooperation with local bicycle shops to offer discounts on these items.

  • MIT should take advantage of its ability to enforce campus rules, by requiring helmets, and lights for night riding, on its campus, and by citing bicyclists on its campus for illegal and unsafe bicycling practices.

  • MIT should provide instructional materials about bicycling, for example my own pamphlet Bicycling Street Smarts, to its students as part of their orientation materials, and should maintain an ongoing informational and instructional program concerning bicycling.


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