Speed bumps added to Mayflower Hill Drive

The week of Nov. 9, the College installed four new speed bumps on Mayflower Hill Drive between Woodman Residence Hall and the tennis courts, a change that many student drivers understand yet feel should have been second priority to lighting improvements near the road’s crosswalks.
The speed bumps are one of multiple “traffic calming measures” that the College has proposed to target the stretch of Mayflower Hill Drive between the Diamond and Davis academic buildings. The area drew increased attention from students, faculty and the administration this year after a student was hit by a car in September while crossing in a crosswalk at dusk. However, even before the accident occurred, the College had plans for lighting and traffic safety improvements in response to preexisting student concerns, PPD recommendations, and the administration’s own analysis, according to Vice President for Administration Doug Terp.
The four new speed bumps are located outside of Coburn, at the north end of Davis and directly under the striping of two crosswalks in front of the main academic quad. While the speed bumps were installed to help control traffic speed, just a week earlier, the College broke ground on a concurrent project to help distance pedestrian traffic from the roadway: a new sidewalk to the athletic center, scheduled for completion at the end of the month. The next project scheduled for Mayflower Hill Drive is “brighter and more consistent” lighting at the crosswalks connecting the main part of campus with the Diamond Building, Davis Building, and Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center, Terp said.
In a survey sent out to the student body about the impact of the new speed bumps, 23 of the 47 respondents (49 percent) responded “Yes” to the question, “Do you think the new speed bumps are an important improvement to pedestrian safety at Mayflower Hill’s crosswalks?” 13 and 11 students responded “No” and “Not sure”, respectively, to the same question.
“They are a great first step, but definitely not enough,” wrote a student who identified as someone who drives on Mayflower Hill “a couple times a week.”
“I think that more lighting is what is needed as opposed to speed bumps. The lighting along Mayflower Hill Drive is abysmal and that should have been addressed first,” added another student who drives on the road “almost every day,” the anonymous student said.
As for the control of traffic speed itself, as opposed to a focus on pedestrian safety, a student who drives on Mayflower Hill “a couple times a week” wrote that the bumps are “a great idea but don’t fully solve the problem.” 50 percent of respondents said that, even after the addition of the speed bumps, they feel that motorists still speed on Mayflower Hill, and all four students who commented drew the same conclusion: that those who want to speed will still do so. However, another student observed that drivers will, at the very least, be more alert now.
Terp specifically addressed the abruptness of the new speed bumps. Given that the College did not repave the whole road but rather added an asphalt mound on top of the road to create each speed bump, “there’s not really a way to smooth them out right now,” he said.
“The less you feel the bump, the less likely you are to slow down,” Terp added. “It’s a reminder: these are major crosswalks; slow it down.”
One student who identified in the survey as a driver on Mayflower Hill “a couple times a week” agreed that the bumps are an “annoyance,” but “in a good way,” they said. “It makes me slow down.”
However, other students feel that the number of new bumps is excessive. “There are so many in that section [between Diamond and Davis] that it’s just crazy. The other ones on campus are fine, though,” said a student who drives “a couple times a week.”
“I would understand having one or two on campus but there are more than that which seems like too many,” said a student who drives on Mayflower Hill almost every day. “More lights so drivers can see walkers would be more helpful than slowing down for a dark shape that might want to cross or is crossing the road.”
Another student felt that the roadway had become safer only during the daylight hours. According to this individual, at night, “pedestrians are almost invisible. This doesn’t mean install inefficient light-polluting streetlights, but possible light-up crosswalks, and path-specific lighting.”
According to Terp, the College will indeed install new lighting on Mayflower Hill Drive in the near future, but he was unable to provide a time frame estimate. “We put in some measures now, and, as we look to the planning for the campus, there’s an assortment of suggestions” the administration must first consider, he said.
In response to the inquiries about light signals at each crosswalk, “We looked at those years ago and decided we didn’t want to do that,” Terp said. Considering how many crosswalks stretch across Mayflower Hill Drive between Diamond and Davis, “that’s a lot of flashing lights,” he added.
Before the four new speed bumps, only two existed on Mayflower Hill Drive: one in front of Woodman and the other in front of the football field, slowing drivers down as they enter campus from either side of Mayflower Hill. “The old ones were put in [years] ago…we thought they were working well,” Terp said.
When the College decided to install additional traffic safety measures, snow plowing was perhaps the most important consideration in determining their shape and prominence. For example, the College knew that installing a concrete island would create an obstacle for the snowplows and hinder the road-clearing efficiency. However, snowplows can accommodate speed bumps without difficulty, provided that they slow to the appropriate speed, according to Terp.
Another option the College considered was installing “tables” at major intersections, a more gradual speed-slowing measure, elevating the pavement slightly in the large square of road between the intersection’s crosswalks. However, “given that we wanted to do it quickly and we wanted to do it with the existing road and the existing drainage, [we] didn’t think that was practical,” Terp said.
Over the next five years, the College will take a “comprehensive look” at campus safety, encompassing traffic control, pedestrian safety along the Mayflower Hill roadway and lighting on campus footpaths. “All of these issues integrate,” Terp said. No matter what, “we will need to do an overlay for [Mayflower Hill Drive] anyway in the future,” he said, which will provide an opportunity to reevaluate the speed bumps and consider additional traffic safety measures.

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