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Mean Streets

Students protest a treacherous intersection on Med Campus


The intersection of Albany and Massachusetts Avenues by Boston Medical Center.

Students at the School of Public Health are taking to the streets today between 2 and 3 p.m. to demand that Boston officials install a four-way crossing signal on the Medical Campus at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Albany Street.

Since September, at least seven nonfatal incidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles have been reported at the busy crosswalk, according to Jaime Lederer (SSW’08, SPH’10), Siphannay Nhean (SSW’09, SPH’09), project administrator at the Health and Disability Research Institute, Melanie Pennison (SSW’09, SPH’09), and Maegan Berliner (SSW’09, SPH’09), who are organizing the protest.

“It is clear to me that it is only a matter of time before one of our BU staff, faculty, or students suffers a serious injury crossing this intersection unless some major changes are made to improve the intersection’s safety,” says Michael Siegel, a School of Public Health professor of social and behavioral sciences.

“I can only add that I am nervous every time I have to cross that intersection,” adds Anita Raj, an SPH associate professor of social and behavioral sciences, who was hit by a car in the crosswalk. “It still feels very dangerous to me, and I still hear too many near-miss stories from pedestrians.”

Pedestrian traffic in the intersection is not limited to BU students, faculty, and staff. Visitors and employees of Boston Medical Center, along with employees of other private companies located in the area, cross it as well.

The city has been promising since last September to address pedestrian safety and make changes to the lighting pattern, which currently allows pedestrians to cross while traffic is oncoming. Students are calling for the city to follow through, repaint sidewalks, and add a mandatory four-way vehicular stop.

“I fear for my life when I cross the Mass Ave.–Albany intersection,” says Berliner. “Boston University needs to make the safety of its students a greater priority. What has been done so far is not good enough


7 Comments on Mean Streets

  • Dr. Richard Pillard on 04.27.2009 at 6:21 am

    Mean Streets

    Yes, the Albany-Mass Ave intersection is treacherous.
    So also is the next intersection, Mass Ave and Harrison Ave. Many staff and many patients use both those intersections. Needed there are lights specific for pedestrians, the little red and green figures that indicate when it is safe to cross.

    Richard C. Pillard, MD

  • Anonymous on 04.27.2009 at 9:58 am

    It's True!

    Seriously… The risk of an adverse event at this intersection at any time of day is greater than any where else on BU’s campus.

  • Anonymous on 04.27.2009 at 10:49 am

    The real problem is not adequate crossing signals on the roads, but the fact that police don’t enforce traffic laws. I’ve seen so many accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians that could easily be avoided if people drove the way that they should.
    This also applies to accidents involving people who bike. There have been a number of people who die and no action is taken to prevent this. The city should be more concerned at the fact that this is a problem and people should be concerned that it’s citizens that need to make this happen. It should be coming from out city govt.

  • Anonymous on 04.27.2009 at 11:36 am

    dangerous crossings for pedestrians

    Good for them! There are several horrible pedestrian crossings on the Charles River Campus as well, i.e. Comm. Ave. at the BU Academy and Comm. Ave. and Babcock – where car traffic has a perpetual green light to turn right, although it is highly congested with pedestrians.

  • Gadi Niram on 04.27.2009 at 12:36 pm

    let's not forget...

    It’s not only us BU folks who are in danger. BMC is one of Boston’s major sources of health care. There is a constant stream of patients coming and going from the hospital, some with mobility impairments. Inaddition, BMC serves a large number of indigent patients, who may be more likely to need to walk to the hospital than other patients.

    I’ve had two near misses on that intersection. Drivers routinely ignore traffic signals and stop lines on the road, and fail to watch for pedestrians in the crosswalks. Whatever changes are made to the signaling must be accompanied by an increase in enforcement.

  • Anonymous on 04.27.2009 at 12:45 pm

    Boston’s pedestrian lights encourage jay-walking because they do not conform with traffic lights as in other cities. They were “improved” years ago and it has been a disaster.

    Thank you SPH students! I also agree that we need a traffic light on the CR campus near BU Academy.

    Comm. Ave. along BU needs roadwork that slows traffic called “traffic calming.” Several students have died in my time at BU.

  • Anonymous on 04.27.2009 at 4:41 pm

    Watch where and when you are walking!

    I agree that safe pedestrian crosswalks are important provided that people use them. I had to pull a young BU student out of the way on comm ave as he almost walked into traffic while listening to his ipod. Pedestrians need to be more responsible walkers!!

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