Building Back Flimsier: Flexposts Replace Concrete Curbs for Mass. Ave. Bike Lanes

New flexible-post bollards have been installed on the Massachusetts Avenue bike lanes through the Boston Medical Center campus. The posts replace sturdier concrete barriers that were removed in December after motorists crashed into them. Photo courtesy of the City of Boston Transportation Department.
New flexible-post bollards have been installed on the Massachusetts Avenue bike lanes through the Boston Medical Center campus. The posts replace sturdier concrete barriers that were removed in December after motorists crashed into them. Photo courtesy of the City of Boston Transportation Department.

The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) has installed flexible-post plastic bollards along the Massachusetts Avenue bike lanes through the Boston Medical Center campus, one of the city’s most dangerous street segments, to replace more robust concrete curbs that were removed in December.

A view of the former curb-protected bike lane on Massachusetts Avenue through the Boston Medical Center campus, pictured before the cast concrete curbs were removed on Wednesday, December 16, 2020. Contributed photo by Wali Sabuhi.
A view of the former curb-protected bike lane on Massachusetts Avenue through the Boston Medical Center campus, pictured before the cast concrete curbs were removed on Wednesday, December 16, 2020. Contributed photo by Wali Sabuhi.

The entire length of Massachusetts Avenue is part of the city’s “high crash network,” with a higher density of crashes that cause injuries to bicyclists and pedestrians than 97 percent of all other city streets.

Drivers killed three victims on Massachusetts Avenue in the vicinity of the Boston Medical Center (BMC) in 2020, according to state crash records.

On January 7, a motorist drove into a pedestrian who later died of their injuries near the corner of Mass. Ave. and Melnea Cass Boulevard. On March 16, another driver reportedly killed a pedestrian walking in a crosswalk at Mass. Ave. and Albany Street, and on April 22, a truck driver struck and killed a bicycle rider at intersection of Mass. and Harrison Avenues.

To address some of the street’s serious threats, BTD had installed modular cast concrete curbs (pictured at right) to keep motorists from driving into the bike lanes, in November 2020.

About a month later, BTD crews removed those protective barriers.

At the time, BTD officials said that the concrete bike lane separators had been removed “out of an abundance of caution” after four crashes on the corridor, some of which involved motorists who had driven their vehicles into the concrete curbs at high speeds.

State records indicate that none of those crashes resulted in any injury, only property damage.

There was, however, yet another injury-causing crash involving a pedestrian recorded on December 28, about two weeks after BTD removed the protective curbs, at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Albany Street.

The newly-installed flexible-post bollards will allow drivers to drive into the bike lane, the adjacent sidewalk, and any humans occupying those spaces without damaging their personal property.

 

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