Battling over bike lanes

Hoboken residents object to protected bike lanes on four city streets

Hoboken residents rebuffed plans for protected bike lanes on various city streets at a community meeting held by the city.
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Hoboken residents rebuffed plans for protected bike lanes on various city streets at a community meeting held by the city.

Hoboken residents voiced frustration over the city’s proposed plan to install protected bike lanes on four streets in Hoboken at a public meeting.

The more than two miles of protected bike lanes would be part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative to end all traffic-related injuries and deaths by 2030 as well as the city’s Climate Action Plan to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2027.

The lanes would be installed in two phases on four streets that already have unprotected bike lanes.

They would be on the left side of Clinton Street from Newark Street to Eighth Street, on the left side of Jefferson Street from Newark Street to 11th Street, on the left side of 11th Street from Willow Avenue to Sinatra Drive North, and on the left side of Grand Street from Newark Street to Ninth Street.

On all named streets the five-foot wide bike lanes would be nearest the curb protected by a two-foot-wide buffer and a 7.5-foot parking lane.

On Eleventh Street the bike lane would be protected by a two-foot buffer and flexible bollards.

According to the city, the project would reduce the number of cyclists and escooter riders on the sidewalk and make the streets safer because they would narrow the streets, which acts as a traffic-calming measure.

Director of Parking and Transportation for the city Ryan Sharp said it would have a “minimal” impact on parking.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla said he was concerned with safety as the city adjusts to various means of micro-mobility, noting “my main concern here in Hoboken is the fact that we are one of the most densely populated cities not in just the county or in the state but in the country, specifically the fourth-most densely populated.”

Residents rebuff

The majority of the roughly 50 residents at the Oct. 3 meeting opposed the protected bike lanes on the designated streets.

“Clinton Street is a huge thoroughfare,” said resident Erika Taurel. “The 126 bus is a critical commuting line on that street, which minimizes cars, and it’s also a major street for arctic lorries making deliveries to ShopRite.”

“If you put in a protected bike lane besides the sidewalk, you’ll squeeze the driving lane down, and it will increase congestion significantly,” she added, noting it’ll make commuting harder for residents. She believes it will increase injuries because drivers will be frustrated and prone to road rage.

Resident Amy Sommer said she was for bike lanes overall but concerned about one on Clinton Street.

She said people double park on Clinton Street when making deliveries. The width of the road allows traffic to continue to flow when this happens, but she said if the road was narrowed, she was concerned traffic would increase, noting that during the rush hour, buses move thousands of people to the city, picking up passengers on Clinton every two to three minutes.

Jerome Abernathy who lives on 11th Street said he agrees with the idea of reducing injuries, calling Vision Zero an “admirable goal” but said there are logistical issues with the proposed bike lanes.

He doesn’t believe his street is wide enough for a bike lane and buffer, noting the street is often clogged with double-parked delivery trucks.

“Currently it’s just wide enough for a car to creep by,” he said, adding that if the trucks cant double park they will move to the ends of the block and illegally block crosswalks making it unsafe for young children to navigate around the trucks’ blind spots to get to and from the nearby Wallace Elementary School.

“You tell me the number-one cause of pedestrian injuries in town, and I’d bet it had something to do with navigating those corners,” he said.

A resident who organizes the community garden planting on the 11th Street meridian added that trucks have difficulty navigating the turn onto 11th Street, and you can often see tire tracks in the dirt of the garden.

A resident of Jefferson Street questioned whether the city took into account the need for parents to drop off or pick up their kids on the left side of Jefferson Street at the Boys & Girls Club or Hoboken Dual Language Charter School. This resident questioned whether the Hoboken Fire Department would be able to navigate around the bike lane as well as double-parked vehicles.

Quiet support

A few residents spoke in favor of the protected bike lanes, including Third Ward council candidate Ron Bautista, a member of the Bike Hoboken advocacy group.

He said cyclists have waited a long time for protected bike lanes, noting that studies show they slow cars, and people are more likely to ride a bike if they have protected lanes.

Resident and former city spokesperson Juan Melli said he was in favor of a protected bike lane on Clinton Street, noting that he doesn’t feel the street is safe enough for his to children to ride on.

He suggested the city install loading zones on every block which would eliminate double parking.

Resident Alec Perkins supported the plan because he’d been struck by a car while riding his bike.

“Paint and signs are not enough,” he said.

He said forcing cars to go slower by narrowing the streets with protected bike lanes would be beneficial, noting the 2016 death of Zachary Simmons, cousin of Philadelphia Sixers Ben Simmons, who was struck by a car that was speeding near Willow Avenue and Sixth Street.

Ryan Sharp said the Jefferson Street bike lane had been approved by the council, noting that the city would take residents’ input into consideration as it continued to explore protected bike lanes on Clinton Street, 11th Street, and Grand Street.

For questions or comments related to the project contact Sharp at rsharp@hobokennj.gov or at (201)420-200.

 

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