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.