Department of Public and Environmental Safety
Pedestrian Safety Improvements
September 10, 2012
The men and women of the Department of Public and Environmental Safety (DPES) extend a warm welcome to the Class of 2016 and a welcome back to our returning undergraduate and graduate students, as well as Tufts faculty and staff. Hopefully the summer months provided you with some enjoyable time away from studies or work.
As the academic year gets underway on the Medford/Somerville campus, DPES would like to tell you about some improvements that we have made for the safety of pedestrians who travel in and around campus.
From August 2011 through March 2012, there were a number of motor vehicle crashes involving contact with pedestrians. Some of the victims were students, faculty or staff of Tufts University. The most serious injury resulting from these crashes was to a student who suffered a broken leg.
Response and Partnerships
As the numbers of incidents of crashes between pedestrians and motor vehicles increased, the Tufts University Police Department, in partnership Tufts senior leadership, worked together with the cities of Somerville and Medford to improve the safety of pedestrians in and around campus.
In order to determine the actions needed and the areas that would be targeted for improvement, we analyzed crash data, identified trouble spots through two surveys that were conducted in the spring of 2012, and determined through consultation with professionals in the field of transportation safety the recommended improvements that would have the most immediate impact on pedestrian safety.
In order to reduce the number of incidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians in and around campus, we engaged in a concerted effort to improve pedestrian safety using Engineering, Education and Enforcement, or as they are known in the safety industry, “The Three E’s” of safety. We worked together with key stakeholders to take actions that would:
- Reduce crashes involving motor vehicles and pedestrians
- Create a safer pedestrian climate in and around campus
- Raise the profile of pedestrian safety in the community
Tufts worked in partnership with the cities of Medford and Somerville to improve pedestrian and crosswalk safety throughout and around the Medford/Somerville campus by:
- Painting all crosswalks
- Installing new approaching pedestrian crossing signage, well before all crosswalks not controlled by traffic signals
- Installing new pedestrian crossing signage at most crosswalks
- Changing out aged pedestrian safety signage and replacing it with reflective, highly visible signage
- Paring back foliage that inhibited illumination of intersecting ways and crosswalks
- Repairing out of order street lights
Professors Row and Packard Avenue
Tufts funded major re-construction of this intersection through the Vice President for Operations and Facilities Services. The University managed the project that re-engineered this intersection in the following ways:
- Installed a traffic-calming table designed to reduce motor vehicle speed
- Installed new curbing and fencing, improving stand off distances of parked motor vehicles which improved lines of sight for pedestrians and motorists
- Installed new crosswalks
- Installed new stop signs
Powderhouse Boulevard and Packard Avenue
The City of Somerville, working in partnership with Tufts University, improved pedestrian safety at this intersection by:
- Painting all crosswalks
- Installing new, highly reflective stop signs at the Packard Avenue approaches of the intersection
- Installing new Approaching Pedestrian Crosswalk signage at all four approaches to the intersection
- Installing new Pedestrian Crosswalk Signage
The City of Somerville also placed signage prohibiting parking within 20 feet of the intersection on the Powderhouse side, increasing standoff distance for parked motor vehicles, thus improving lines of sight for pedestrians and motorists; repaired street lights and pruned foliage at the intersection, improving visibility for pedestrians and motor vehicle operators after dark.
In an effort to raise the profile of pedestrian safety in and around campus, Tufts University Police have created a short video that is designed to raise awareness of the need for pedestrians to practice good safety habits at all times. The video focuses on the practice of distracted walking, where pedestrians are paying more attention to other activities (talking or texting on smartphones, listening to music with headphones, etc.) than they are to crossing intersecting ways with care and caution. What most pedestrians don’t realize is that drivers too are at times distracted by the same activities.
The video was produced and directed by Tufts staff and features Tufts students, TEMS, Armstrong Ambulance and Tufts Police as actors. The Dean of Students is also featured. We urge you to view this video. All of these folks have one thing in common: They are concerned for the safety of our community members as they move through and around campus.
Beginning soon after matriculation and continuing throughout the semester, Tufts University Police have requested that both Medford and Somerville Police increase their presence on the streets adjacent to campus in order to provide a visible deterrent to speeding motor vehicles and to provide targeted enforcement of traffic laws and ordinances in order to reduce the incidences of motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians.
Tufts University Police, when not otherwise engaged in answering emergency or service calls, will be staged at key intersecting ways on campus to provide a visible deterrent to speeding and stop sign violations, and to assist pedestrians at peak volume hours.
The Department of Public and Environmental Safety would like to remind the Tufts community that motorists need to be vigilant of pedestrians and pedestrians need to be vigilant of motorists. Although motorists have more responsibility under the law when operating a motor vehicle on city streets, pedestrians have more at stake if struck by a motor vehicle.
We believe that through these coordinated efforts, in partnership with each other and with the cities of Medford and Somerville, crashes involving motor vehicles and pedestrians will be reduced. We ask that our students, faculty and staff do their part as they make their way on foot in and around campus: Please be fully aware, fully engaged, and fully committed to your own safety as you move about campus.
Have a safe and enjoyable year.
-Kevin C. Maguire
Director of Public and Environmental Safety