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Brockton’s New Bike Lanes – More or Less Safe for Those on the Road?

1368129673-urlBrockton Avenue in Riverside from Mission Inn Ave to Central Ave, was converted late last year from a four lane roadway (two lanes in each direction) to a two lane roadway (one in each direction with a middle turn lane and large bike lanes in each direction).

I know many who attended the town hall meetings when this conversion was being proposed and I understand that opposition to the addition of bike lanes was quite vocal. Locals who live along Brockton and the side streets were concerned that through traffic would increase on their roads due to people cutting up to Magnolia to avoid congestion on a newly shrunk Brockton Ave. Commuters expressed concern over congestion as they travelled to downtown along Brockton – a major traffic artery into the downtown area. Very few bicyclists were in attendance at this meeting, clamoring for their own lanes along Brockton.

The plan was approved despite opposition.

These are my observations after a few months of Brockton being a two lane road with bike lanes:

  • Traffic. It can be bad during peak hours. Congestion backs up lights and often motorists have to wait through multiple cycles of the lights to get through an intersection. My office is situated near one such intersection and I have heard the screeching of tires and witnessed “rear end” accidents much more frequently since the addition of the bike lanes.

  • People are slow to recognize the bike lanes. I’ve seen many people driving in the bike lanes as though they were regular car lanes. This is potentially dangerous for any bicycles that may be traveling in these lanes, potentially causing serious and/or fatal accidents. I have also seen several near misses when someone makes a left turn onto a side street and is almost struck by someone traveling in a bike lane.

  • Aggressive driving exacerbated. Drivers seem more aggressive now. Because there is no “passing lane,” drivers now tailgate the vehicle ahead if they deem them to be traveling too slow in an effort to intimidate them into either pulling over or speeding up. I’ve seen other drivers use the central turn lane as a passing lane which could potentially have catastrophic consequences.

  • Bicycle traffic is the same as before – non-existent. It was rare to see a bicycle traveling along Brockton Ave before the bike lanes were put it. The addition of the lanes doesn’t seem to have encouraged people to make use of them.

In my opinion, the intent behind the addition of bike lanes on Brockton may have been good; however, in practice, it has done more harm than good.

What is your opinion? Has the addition of bike lanes on Brockton been an improvement? Are bike lanes, in general, a good idea? Let us know in the comments.

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