Cycle safety

Hoboken to explore protected bike lane in new pilot program

Five blocks of Jefferson Street will get a protected bike lane along the east side of the street in a six- month pilot program.
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Five blocks of Jefferson Street will get a protected bike lane along the east side of the street in a six- month pilot program.

Cyclists along Hoboken’s west side will soon have a protected bike lane after the Hoboken City Council approved a six-month pilot program.

The temporary protected lane will run along the east side of five blocks of Jefferson Street, from Fourth Street to Eighth Street and from 11th Street to 12th Street.

The bike lane and protected buffer will be five feet wide, located where cars currently park on the street’s eastern side. It will be striped and protected by flexible bollards. Cars will park on the other side of the buffer.

According to Director of Parking and Transportation Ryan Sharp, Jefferson Street is a prime location because PSE&G has already rehabilitated and repaved the five blocks they will use for the pilot, which reduces the cost of the pilot for the city.

According to supporting documents for the resolution, which was sponsored by Councilmen Michael Russo and Peter Cunningham, creating the protected bike lane will cost approximately $30,660 per 500-feet of average block length.

According to the resolution, the city is encouraged to seek partial funding for the project by applying for the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program (TAP) Transportation Grants from the state.

According to a New York City Department of Transportation study, streets with protected bike lanes had a 40 percent reduction in crash-related injuries over a four-year period. After a protected bike lane was installed along Prospect Park West in Brooklyn, sidewalk-cycling decreased from 46 percent to 3 percent.

Sharp said the hope is to study the pilot and get feedback from residents.

If the pilot is successful, the city could extend the protected bike lane along the length of Jefferson Street in phases.

The pilot will end at the end of October.

 Cyclist’s support

Resident and cyclist Ron Bautista said he and other cyclists have “been waiting a long time for a protected bike lane.”

Bautista said the protected bike lane would make it safer for everyone. Drivers will slow down and be more cautious because the street will become narrower.

“If you are worried about traffic and parking, this is something you should be interested in because the more people who use a bike as their transportation that’s one less person in traffic,”  Bautista said, noting that a protected bike lane will reduce the number of cyclists who bike on sidewalks, making it safer for pedestrians.

Resident Keith Taylor who is a member of Bike Hoboken, a local biking advocacy group, said protected bike lanes reduce the number of car-on-bike and car-on-pedestrian crashes.

“I feel safer riding a bike in New York City in protected bike lanes than I do many times on the streets in Hoboken,” he said.

He said he has come close to being sideswiped by cars and “just a stripe of paint really isn’t enough.”

He noted that often non-protected bike lanes with just painted stripes allow cars to double park making it dangerous for cyclists who have to then merge with the flow of traffic and back out again.

He said the previous weekend he saw a man riding his bike the wrong way down the unprotected bike lane following two small children who were cycling on the sidewalk.

“Obviously he didn’t want his kids trying to ride in the street,” Taylor said. “If we had protected bike lanes, the kids would’ve been off the sidewalk. Kids tend to weave as they pedal, and that can easily harm a pedestrian.”

Bike Hoboken member Alex Perkins said protecting only a few blocks was a good first step, noting that it would make the street safer for everyone who bikes, especially those who want to bike in the street but don’t feel safe enough to do so.

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