Local News

Some question bike lanes on Avent Ferry Road

Posted October 15, 2010 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2010 7:01 p.m. EDT

— Some residents say they are concerned about safety after recent changes at a west Raleigh intersection.

The city, in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s recent resurfacing of Avent Ferry Road, converted a 2-mile stretch of the four-lane road into a two-lane road with bicycle lanes on each side.

Jennifer Baldwin, a senior transportation analyst for the city, said the decision was part of the city’s 30-year comprehensive plan to help improve the number of transportation options for commuters.

“A lot of traffic engineers analyzed this section, and it was determined that the four lanes were not needed to handle the capacity today, as well as into the future,” Baldwin said.

But Stacy Cochran, a long-time resident who lives near Avent Ferry and Lake Dam roads, says the move has caused a bottleneck in the area, which has led to more aggressive driving.

“Folks aren't going to ride their bikes in these two new additional bike lanes, because it’s dangerous,” he said.

He’s also concerned because the change is near Athens Drive High School. Since the road has been converted, he says, he’s seen two major collisions in the area.

“We’re right at the doorstep of a school zone,” Cochran said. “You’ve got kids walking to class, drivers who are forced to compress in a bottleneck, which then causes aggressive driving, and then it opens up literally 50 yards from a school zone.”

Coupled with what residents say is a more dangerous road, city ordinances already allow bicyclists to ride on sidewalks, leaving some to wonder why the bicycle lanes were needed in the first place.

“I have not seen one bike on those lanes,” said Adrien Montoya, who also lives in the area. “If they’re going to do something, why don’t they ask what the people want?”

Baldwin admits that the traffic pattern is confusing but says that she believes it could ultimately help improve safety. By taking away travel lanes, there’s less chance for vehicles traveling at higher speeds.

The city plans, within the next month, to label the bicycle lanes and add signs to help drivers and bicycle riders better understand the new traffic pattern.

“I really believe that, once those are installed, it will promote more education as to why the lane switch happened, and it will make it easier for all road users,” Baldwin said.