With a 6-3 vote, the Hoboken City Council overrode a mayoral veto regarding bicycle parking at municipal garages during a roughly 20-minute virtual meeting on July 22.
The ordinance will allow residents to park bikes in designated areas of municipal garages for an annual fee of $52, or $1 a week.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla vetoed the ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Michael DeFusco and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, on July 17.
Part of Bhalla’s veto statement read, “While I am completely supportive of legislation that would potentially add safe bicycle parking for residents, the ordinance is severely lacking in the detail and substance that would be necessary to successfully implement such a program.”
He said he would be happy to reconsider more detailed and substantive legislation that adds safe bicycle parking for residents.
Councilwoman Emily Jabbour and Councilmen Jim Doyle and Phil Cohen voted against the override.
Calling the special meeting “a ridiculous situation,” Cohen said, “This amounts to nothing but a colossal waste of time on what has been an awful ordinance made into a bad ordinance.”
“In the middle of a pandemic, in a fiscal crisis and everything else this is how we are using council time to have yet another vote on an ordinance with no specifics,” Cohen said. “No one in Hoboken in their right mind is going to spend $52 a year. It’s aspirational, and I get the fact that people want to dump this on the city and say it’s the city’s problem, but if as much work went into this ordinance as to tweeting and press releases related to this ordinance, this would be a great ordinance because there’s been so much energy spent on that.”
He said the council should have instead “fleshed out” more specifics.
In an email sent to the council before the special meeting President of Bike Hoboken Chris Adair asked the council to “sustain the mayor’s veto.”
“While we appreciate Mr. DeFusco and Ms. Fisher making the topic of bicycling parking a priority, we believe this ordinance lacks needed specificity,” she wrote. “ Sustaining the veto will allow the city council to work with the Department of Transportation and Bike Hoboken to create a comprehensive plan to identify locations and build out secure bicycle parking.”
Adair was unable to speak at the meeting because she was at work, according to Jim Vance, a member of Bike Hoboken.
“ … It is only sensible that we begin creating affordable bike storage for cyclists, especially in an urban setting where far too often residents are limited on space,” DeFusco said. “The mayor’s initial veto was nothing more than a ploy to discredit those of us on the City Council who do not always agree with him politically.”
“I am proud to co-sponsor this piece of legislation to provide a valuable amenity to Hoboken’s bike enthusiasts who are tired of locking their bike outside, carrying it up a flight (or more) of stairs or storing it in their living room …” said Fisher who chairs the council’s Parking and Transportation Subcommittee.
“Mayor Bhalla is 100 percent supportive of bike-friendly legislation that includes well thought-out, specific guidelines that take into account input from the Director of Transportation, administration, cycling advocates, and City Councilmembers,” said city spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri.
“While this one-sentence ordinance failed to include any actual details, lacked support from key stakeholders, and did not provide any necessary safety precautions, he invites all stakeholders to work in collaboration on policies that would benefit cyclists in town that are safe, feasible, and does not put an unnecessary burden on the City to implement, especially given that much of the City’s time and resources are currently devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic response.”
Under the Bhalla administration, Hoboken has prioritized a number of initiatives to encourage alternative transportation and increase pedestrian safety, including looking for a combined Hoboken/ Jersey City bike sharing system with Mayor Steven Fulop, launching open streets and slow streets programs in Hoboken, signing an executive order launching a Vision Zero pedestrian safety campaign in Hoboken, installing protected bike lanes and non-protected bike lanes, making Vision Zero improvements to Newark Street, constructing curb extensions to reduce crossing distances for pedestrians and slow vehicles, and re-launching Sinatra Summer Streets.