As several road projects come to completion, there are some new road markings and traffic patterns in Melrose.
Here’s some information about these, as well as reminders about some existing markings:
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons are pushbutton crosswalk signals that increase a motorist’s awareness that someone is waiting to enter the crosswalk. These signals have been proven to dramatically increase the rates of drivers yielding to pedestrians. Pedestrians should remember, however, that the flashing signal does not guarantee that a car will stop, and it is still critical for pedestrians to stay alert and ensure drivers have made eye contact and acknowledged their presence before crossing.
Sharrows are shared lane markings reminding drivers that cyclists are considered vehicles and have the right to occupy the full travel lane. In the absence of sharrows, the rules are still the same, but the sharrows are intended to call attention to the possible presence of cyclists. Sharrows are used on roads where bike lanes would not fit due to roadway widths or parking lanes.
Bike boxes have been painted at many intersections along Main Street to provide cyclists a place to wait when at a red light. This provides a safe space for cyclists, especially those turning left, to queue up in front of vehicles, to be appropriately positioned for their turns. Vehicles are supposed to stop behind the stop bars, before the bike boxes.
Yield triangles have been painted in advance of many crosswalks in heavily traveled areas, especially in business districts and around schools. These are a series of triangles in a row painted on the road, as you approach a crosswalk in a vehicle. These show where a car is supposed to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, in order to safely stop in advance of the crosswalk.
Bike lanes are striped areas dedicated to bike travel. Lanes have been painted in locations such as Main Street north of Highland, and on Berwick Street. Cars should not drive over bike lanes unless turning. For example, if a vehicle in front of you is making a left turn, it is not appropriate to go around them on the right by driving into the bike lane. Bike lanes are preferable to sharrows in terms of safety, providing cyclists their own separate space in which to travel, and they have been used along the north-south bike routes wherever there was adequate roadway width to fit them.
Bus stops along portions of Main Street have been painted as shared areas for buses and cyclists. These are not intended to be travel lanes for other vehicles.
The Howard/Green Street roundabout is nearing completion, and drivers are reminded that those traveling into the roundabout are required to yield to those already traveling within the circle. The brick area in the center is designed to allow larger trucks and buses to safely traverse the intersection; they are permitted to drive up onto the brick. Regular vehicles, pickup trucks, smaller box trucks, etc., should stay within the paved area. The design of the roundabout is such that cars slow down to 15 mph to comfortably navigate the circle. This is resulting in much slower speeds through the area and has allowed us to add crosswalks in all directions.
While this has taken some getting used to, the purpose of the roundabout is to create safer conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians. Drivers are reminded to stay alert, pay attention to the road, and be patient with drivers who may still be learning the new traffic configuration.