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Engineer's Passion for Pedestrian and Bike Safety Leads to Partnership with NYC

May 27, 2014

Last year at this time, the City of Boston announced plans to add side guards to 19 large public works vehicles and to require side guards on all newly purchased city trucks. Now, New York City has asked Volpe to help it study and develop pilot initiatives on side guards for the largest-in-the-nation municipal truck fleet.

"I see Volpe's partnership with NYC DCAS, our first with the City of New York, as an exciting opportunity to bring together the complementary strengths of our two agencies.  Just as importantly, this partnership is likely to save lives if the side guard initiatives are successful, advancing transportation innovation for the public good," said Dr. Alex Epstein.

Passionate about pedestrian and bike safety, Volpe engineer Dr. Alex Epstein researches the capacity of side guards to save lives. Side guards, installed on large trucks in Europe, Asia, and South America, protect bicyclists and pedestrians from falling underneath the body of a vehicle.

Dr. Epstein found that, after side guards were required on most heavy-duty vehicles in the United Kingdom, there was a 61 percent drop in fatalities for bicyclists who hit the side of a truck moving in the same direction, and a 20 percent drop in fatalities for pedestrians.

New York’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) recently funded Volpe to study the use of side guards on its trucks. This effort is part of NYC’s Vision Zero, a sweeping policy agenda to reduce road traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero within a decade.

Volpe, DCAS, and fleet agencies plan to do the following:

  • Meet with existing side guard vendors
  • Review and develop specifications
  • Develop large-scale pilot initiatives

"I see Volpe's partnership with NYC DCAS, our first with the City of New York, as an exciting opportunity to bring together the complementary strengths of our two agencies. Just as importantly, this partnership is likely to save lives if the side guard initiatives succeed as expected, advancing transportation innovation for the public good," said Dr. Epstein.

Learn more about the NYC initiative.

Learn more about the Boston initiative.

Updated: Friday, February 13, 2015
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