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BARRIER AT END OF
MINUTEMAN BIKEWAY

Location G in aerial photo

Barrier gates are commonly used at railroad crossings. These gates descend only when a train is approaching.

Permanent barrier gates with narrow openings at their ends were installed across the Minuteman Bikeway in Lexington, under the assumption that they would increase safety by slowing down bicyclists before intersections. This assumption is questionable. There are several problems:

  • the barriers themselves constitute a hazard

  • they partially hide traffic in the intersection

  • they distract bicyclists just as they approach the intersection

  • they increase congestion, and slow bicyclists leaving the intersection as well as entering it

  • None of the barriers on the Minuteman are painted in bright colors, or reflectorized, increasing the likelihood that bicyclists will fail to notice them when riding after dark.

The AASHTO Guide, the US national standard for the construction of bicycle facilities, does not recommend such barriers.

The Alewife barrier was installed several years after the Lexington ones. It stands just before the extraordinarily long and poorly-routed crosswalk which connects the Minuteman Bikeway with Alewife Station. The barrier could be called a "see no evil" barrier. It may have given the designers of this section of the trail some sense of having solved the problems of the crosswalk. The barrier does not do that, and it creates problems of its own.

Before the barrier is a short rumble strip (visible in panorama photo). This, on the other hand, provides a useful warning without creating a hazard.


The barrier.

9905N11R16Barrier.jpg (34411 bytes)


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Contents 2002, John S. Allen ,
May be reproduced, with attribution.