Hoboken City Council Rejects Bikeway So Motorists Can Double-Park

Hoboken has abandoned plans to install protected bike lanes on the city’s main drag so drivers may continue to double-park.

The Hoboken City Council watered down a plan for a protected bikeway on Washington Street, which has a high number of crashes. Image: The RBA Group
The Hoboken City Council watered down a plan for a protected bikeway on Washington Street, which has a high number of crashes. Image: The RBA Group

As Streetsblog reported in 2014, a plan backed by Mayor Dawn Zimmer would have brought a parking-protected bikeway, curb extensions, and bus bulbs to Washington Street.

The 8-foot-wide bi-directional bikeway was to run along the Washington Street commercial district between the PATH station and the northern edge of the city [PDF]. The plan also called for sidewalk and loading zone upgrades. Seven blocks of Washington, between Eighth and 15th streets, were to have a one-way northbound bikeway, with sharrows for southbound bike traffic, to preserve parking for cars.

The proposal was crafted during a series of public hearings that lasted nearly a year. But yesterday the Hoboken City Council approved a watered-down plan that excludes the bikeway in favor of painted bike lanes and sharrows, according to the Hudson Reporter.

In the past two weeks, commuters and business owners have spoken against protected bike lanes. Residents expressed concerns that the six foot bike lanes (4 foot for each lane and a two-foot buffer) would narrow Washington Street, hurt business, and deter double-parking.

The city says studies prove the opposite in regard to the bike lanes attracting business.

City Council President Jen Giattino was the only council member to vote the [revised] plan down, saying amendments to the redesign were made at the meeting by council members, who are not engineers.

Data show there were more than 300 traffic crashes on Washington Street from 2013 to 2015, involving 25 pedestrians and cyclists. Ten of those victims were injured, and last year a motorist struck and killed an 89-year-old pedestrian on Washington.

But opponents of a safer street were more concerned with continuing to facilitate double-parking, which makes walking and biking more dangerous, and is illegal in Hoboken. “What is so horrible about double parking?” said business owner Ernie Reyes at a meeting earlier this month. “You’ve all done it, I’m sure.”

“We’re not anti-bike,” explained business owner Eugene Flynn yesterday. “I ride a bike myself and people that ride bikes on Washington St. are saying to me they wouldn’t ride in the dedicated lane.” Bike fan Flynn’s unsubstantiated anecdote notwithstanding, actual data indicate that sidewalk bike riding drops when protected bike lanes go in, even as overall bike counts soar.

The retreat on Washington Street is a major setback for a city that had been on a roll with new bike infrastructure.

  • “In its place was a resolution that was added to the agenda last minute –
    so late in fact that City Clerk Jerry Lore was not able to place it on
    the online version of the agenda before the meeting. Lore provided
    physical copies at the meeting.

    The new resolution, which was approved, was to authorize the Class 2 bike design and the engineering plan for Washington Street.”

    Democracy?

  • J

    Maybe they were worried about their reputation:
    “Restaurants, bars, and double-parked cars”.

    Without the double-parking, what kind of identity would they have?

  • AlexWithAK

    Discouraging drivers from doing something illegal is seen as a valid reason not to add the bike lane. Business owners’ anecdotal concerns that the data shows to be unfounded are seen as a reason not to add the bike lane. This is where we are in America and it’s utterly depressing.

  • NIMBYs rule, basically, these folks believe they own the road, and have the right to use it as they please.

  • This is the same philosophy that leads to DOT installing wide parking lanes and buffered bike lanes here in NYC. Business owners’ concerns are understandable, even if they are anecdotal. What’s not understandable is why professional engineers give up so easily in response.

  • Andres Dee

    Washington lost out big when the HBLRT was routed via the west side of town (west side’s gain). IMHO, the priorities on Washington should be a safe and pleasant pedestrian environment and an efficient transit corridor. The adjoining streets might serve as better bases for first-class “through” bike lanes, with Washington serving “local” traffic.

  • KeNYC2030

    If these council members are going to vote down a protected bike lane to enable the illegal activity of double-parking, they shouldn’t complain when cyclists take to the sidewalk as the only safe place to ride.

  • Very disappointing to see Zimmer back-pedal (so intended!) on this.

    And this is not just a setback in Hoboken but for all of New Jersey!

  • It is actually legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in Hoboken. I believe that the standard is that bicyclists must move at “walking speed” .

  • “I ride a bike myself and people that ride bikes on Washington St. are saying to me they wouldn’t ride in the dedicated lane.”

    As a Hoboken resident, this line made me throw my phone after reading it.

  • Just another day in Hoboken

  • The issue is there aren’t a lot of cyclists involved in politics here in Hoboken and the council bent to the whims of the ‘majority.’

  • thomas040

    But but… isn’t double parking illegal? Parking in a traffic lane is what double parking IS right? And also boxing someone in.
    In what world does this make sense?

  • HobokenGary

    Absolutely, the loss of this bike lane is not only a loss for the state, but our solar system. How will the Ort cloud continue to exist without a bike lane down the most heavily driven street in town? Will the sun go dark because no one wanted a bike lane? I say, “Very likely, yes!”

  • J

    Hoboken business owners are the birthers of transportation policy. No amount of evidence is going to satisfy them.

  • J

    Hoboken shows that it is still strong in New Jersey backwards-ness.

  • Bobberooni

    The adjoining streets already have decent “through” bike lanes. But that’s not a help to someone on bike who needs to do errands on Washington St.

    Washington St. is still better for bikes than other business corridors nearby (eg, River Rd). What does this say about the state of things?

  • That doesn’t stop people from complaining!

  • That’s total BS! I’m a “bold and fearless” type and I’d gladly welcome the lane even though I had concerns about two or three details about the design.

  • Why do you think this Jersey boy had to go find work in Minnesota?!?!

  • Mattington Bear

    You’re retarded. Only faggots speak that way.

  • AMH

    Doesn’t Hoboken have an even lower car-ownership rate than NYC?

    A bikeway would fit well with their overall goal to reduce car usage.
    http://www.njslom.org/magazine/2010-11/pg4.html

  • HobokenGary

    So, am I a retard or a faggot, or both? Either way, now I’m turned on.

  • neroden

    So they’re literally choosing a policy in order to PROMOTE double parking?

    Perhaps if they’re so into double-parking they should consider completely changing the traffic code. Oh, wait, they can’t, it’s state law.

    Is there any way for the state to crack down on them for promoting illegal activity?

  • neroden

    This puts the lie to any engineers’ claims that they consider “liability”.

    Encouraging double parking is blatantly dangerous and exposes the engineers and the city to a lot of liability (has anyone considered suing them for this)?

  • Rob

    Let one of their own get hurt, I’m sure they will be singing a different tune.

  • This makes me sick, and is a setback to basic human rights, and small business profits, for that matter. The city should have just done it. Screw the fascists!

  • Daphna

    It is a shame that Hoboken city council members refused to vote up a plan that “was crafted during a series of public hearings that lasted nearly a year.” Instead they voted up a substitute plan with an in-the-door-zone bike lane that will be blocked by double-parked cars. Those types of bike lanes do not work. The real-world research has already been done by others cities that have tried them. Those types of bike lanes are an idea from 15 years ago that failed. Hoboken can skip going through their own trial and error period and can learn from others who have already done the implementations.

    Hoboken is not in the suburbs of New Jersey, Hoboken is urban and is just across the Hudson River from NYC. NYC began switching to projected bike lanes in 2007. Do Hoboken city council members only look west and not east?
    It’s 2016 not the 1950’s! Wake up already!

  • Brian

    If I need to get to a business on Washington by bike I’ll ride down Bloomfield (taking the whole lane) and turn up the closest side street. I’ll also ride slowly on the sidewalks although that’s dangerous as I’m dodging pedestrians and really shouldn’t be there. Washington Street is awful for riding and a protected bike lane would be welcomed and used all the time.

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