Hoboken officials have announced they are working on a number of initiatives to improve parking, transportation, and pedestrian safety. Changes now underway are intended to ease the parking crunch throughout the city, offer alternate ways to travel besides automobiles, and make walking around the city safer.
To create more parking spaces, parking will be allowed along yellow curbs from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., officials said recently. Residents will be permitted to park overnight at yellow curbs immediately following an intersection on various outbound streets (see accompanying diagram).
Red painted curbs are currently being marked at various intersections across the city so that people know how close to a corner they can park. The red paint designates the “No Parking” areas. Last month, Hoboken Grace Community Church recruited volunteers to spend two hours painting many of the curbs.
“There are certain laws to adhere to regarding Hoboken parking, and it involves all parties on equal footing.” – Michael Damurjian
Alternate transportation to ease parking crunch
Recently released statistics show that alternative transportation methods are becoming more popular in Hoboken.
City officials hope the Corner Car (hourly Hertz car rentals) and Hop cross-town buses will ease demand for parking by encouraging residents to give up their own cars and use these services.
City officials say the Hop shuttle buses and Corner Cars have seen steady growth in ridership since they were implemented in 2009 and 2010. According to city statistics, the number of residential parking permit sales has dropped roughly 2,500 since 2005, a year in which the city sold nearly 20,000 permits.
However, over 2011, residential parking permit sales increased by over 700. City spokesman Juan Melli said that the number fluctuates, but overall the trend is downward.
Increasing pedestrian safety
Sacs said the city will continue to develop initiatives to increase pedestrian safety. During last month’s City Council meeting, a resolution was passed to apply for a $20,000 Sustainable NJ grant to install curb extensions.
By rounding out the corner of a curb, the extensions decrease the street distance pedestrians cross, which increases safety. Officials said that many of these extensions will also feature a “rain garden” to help with the city’s chronic flooding problem.
“They work as temporary reservoirs,” said Sacs, adding that the “gardens” are typically a pit filled with gravel. “[The] gardens take a small amount of water and hold it into a reservoir for a period of time.”
Sacs said the gardens typically dry up the water or naturally release it into the sewers after a few hours, which would likely happen after the heaviest rainfall had ended. The often overloaded sewers would thereby take in less water at a time.
Officials said they hope to get three to four pilot demonstrations out of the $20,000 grant, which would be used to demonstrate its impact on flooding.
Some residents still have parking concerns. Michael Damurjian told the Reporter that he believes the number of cars now illegally parked near intersections has proven unsafe.
“As if parking in Hoboken isn’t already a challenge, half the battle is dealing with cars that are parked in the yellow spaces at intersections,” said Damurjian, who parks his vehicle on the street via a resident parking pass nearly every day. “You’re nearly halfway through the intersection just to get a view of the street to make sure it is clear.”
Sacs said that the recent installation of stanchions, or poles, near street intersections, has made the streets safer. The poles are designed to prevent cars from parking too close to the curb, which can block the view of drivers attempting to pass through intersections.
“For the past few years we’ve had fantastic results in pedestrian safety,” said Sacs. “Collisions have dropped significantly. We’re happy that the poles are a part of that effort.”
“We haven’t had any fatalities [since the stanchions were implemented],” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “We’ve gotten tremendous support and feedback on the stanchions. They really work to increase the visibility of those corners. We have so many people walking in Hoboken, which is great. We want to make sure that it is safe for everybody.”
Officials said the stanchions, which have proven to be cost-effective, will continue to be installed until they are on nearly every street corner in Hoboken.
Residents who would like a particular street corner modified should email their concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Damurjian also said that he finds the amount of double-parking, particularly on Washington Street, to be “annoying.” According to Damurjian, much of the double-parking can be attributed to store owners and employees who block cars in along Washington Street.
“This is a non-issue for those who work in the city, but what about residents like myself who commute every day?” asked Damurjian. “It’s a lose-lose when you are double-parked, since both parties are annoyed that they have to move their cars to begin with.”
The Reporter took a ride down Washington Street at 12 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon to count the number of parking violations, which included double-parking, parking too close to an intersection, and parking in front of a bus stop or fire hydrant. Approximately 29 violations were counted in the 14-block stretch of Washington Street, equating to roughly 2 per block. One such violation even included a Port Authority Police vehicle.
Sacs said that currently, the Hoboken Parking Utility enforces double-parking in a “limited fashion.”
“At the moment, the resources that we have to enforce parking laws do not allow us to put all our effort into one particular violation,” said Sacs.
Sacs said that double-parking reduces speeding and slows down traffic.
“For the most part, double-parking creates temporary physical impediments along the roadway that actually contribute to reduced speeding on corridors,” said Sacs. “Our primary concern [with] double-parking is [when it occurs] too close to intersections, or [when it] blocks fire hydrants or bicycle lanes.”
Sacs declined to say that double-parking makes roads safer. However, Sacs said that the city will be “stepping up” enforcement on what are perceived to be the more dangerous examples of double parking.
“We’re definitely stepping up enforcement on double-parking,” he said, “but we’re doing it in a balanced way that addresses the primary safety concerns as opposed to across-the-border enforcement.”
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at email@example.com.