You may have noticed the rigid new addition to Hoboken’s streetscape. Or you may have heard your friends and neighbors yelling, “What the hell are these $*@%!^& things?!?!”
They are bollards, or stanchions—defined as short, vertical posts intended to direct the flow of traffic. Here in Hoboken, they’ve recently been installed on street corners and near fire hydrants, to prevent cars from parking illegally.
“The visibility on narrow streets is extremely limited,” says Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, “and having vehicles illegally parked on the corners even for a short period of time obstructs visibility, making it dangerous for other drivers and for pedestrians. For those using a wheelchair, scooter, walker or with other disabilities, a blocked crosswalk presents the unacceptable option of staying home or potentially putting themselves in danger.”
Yet in practice, the bollards are causing drivers—specifically delivery trucks and residents who depend on quick corner stops to unload cargo or pick-up passengers—to wedge themselves onto corners already obstructed by the bollards, pinching traffic flow and actually decreasing visibility. Meanwhile several council members and candidates—including some running with the support of the Mayor—have made statements opposing the installation of the bollards.
“I have reached out to the administration to revisit and remove these stanchions, which serve no purpose but to inconvenience the neighborhood,” says 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham.
“As Mayor, my biggest concern is making sure that our community is safe. When it comes to parking at corners, I ask residents and the City Council to keep this in mind: If everyone uses the corners as quick loading zones, then our fire trucks will not be able to get through the City in an emergency or will be delayed because they have to find a different route to get to a fire,” says Zimmer. “By installing bollards to prevent illegal parking at corners as part of our repaving program, we’ve dramatically improved the ability of fire trucks to get through our City in emergency situations. At the same time, we have also painted yellow symbols in the roadway so firefighters can more easily find fire hydrants and further improve response times.”
With pedestrian safety an ongoing concern, the City appears to be digging in its heels on the bollards.
“Probably every Hoboken resident has their story of a very close call of almost being struck by a car when crossing the street,” says Mayor Zimmer. “The bump outs and bollards at corners have significantly reduced pedestrian crashes and injuries and help to protect our children, seniors, the disabled, and everyone in our community.”
Regarding their practical impact on everyday life in Hoboken, the Mayor says, “Going forward, I hope we can work together to create loading zones for quick drop offs where needed and requested by neighborhoods in locations that are safe for everyone. In addition, the long term goal is to try and have as many bump outs as possible replaced with rain garden curb extensions that prevent illegal parking at corners while adding to the beauty of the neighborhood and reducing stormwater runoff.”