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Harvard will be first East Coast college to install side guards on its trucks

Harvard University announced that it will be the first college on the East Coast to install side guards on its trucks to protect bikers and pedestrians.
Harvard University
Harvard University announced that it will be the first college on the East Coast to install side guards on its trucks to protect bikers and pedestrians.

Harvard University announced Wednesday that it will be the first college on the East Coast to install side guards on its trucks.

The goal of the new initiative is to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety in and around Harvard’s campuses, university officials said. Transportation experts say side guards save lives by blocking the space between the front and rear wheels of a truck, preventing people from being swept underneath.

Representatives from several Harvard departments partnered with the US Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center and worked for more than a year to develop the program, university officials said.

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The university launched the pilot program by installing side guards on Harvard mail and delivery services box trucks, and Harvard fleet technicians have begun installing side guards on other Harvard-owned box trucks and solid waste and recycling trucks.

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Harvard officials plan to have side guards included on new trucks that are purchased in the future and are asking vendors that drive large trucks onto campus to install side guards on their large trucks “as quickly as possible.”

So far, the university’s waste management vendors — Republic Services and Save That Stuff — have installed side guards on all of their waste service trucks that serve Harvard’s campus, officials said.

“Side guards are a simple, cost-effective safety improvement we can make to protect the people in the community who bike and walk through our dense, urban campus,” Meredith Weenick, vice president for Campus Services, told the Harvard Gazette.

Colin Durrant, senior communications officer for the Harvard Office for Sustainability, said Harvard is the first higher education institution on the East Coast to implement the safety initiative on trucks it owns and vendors’ trucks.

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“According to Volpe, the University of Washington installed side guards on its box trucks in 2015, but no other major institution has required side guards on both the trucks it owns and those operated by its vendors,” Durrant said.

In May 2015, the city of Cambridge announced similar plans to install side guards on city-owned trucks.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.