THE STRUGGLE IS WHEEL: Hoboken Backpedals on Plans for Bike Lanes on Washington Street
**Updated at 3:15 p.m.**
In her State of the City comments, Mayor Zimmer reinforced her plan, “to get Washington Street redesigned in a way that makes it safe for everyone and paved as soon as possible.”
Zimmer stated, “Washington Street is a great street—it is the heart of our city and home to many great businesses, however it also has a number of challenges. The unfortunate reality is that it is also the most dangerous corridor in Hoboken with more than 300 crashes in the past three years. There were 20 pedestrians struck by cars, and sadly we lost a Hoboken senior who was crossing Washington Street last year.”
Among the plans for a full redesign was an ambitious plan to include protected bike lanes.
Battle lines were quickly drawn—while bicycling advocates and other points of view spoke out in favor of the bold move, local business owners and a large number of residents were wary of the impact on Hoboken’s chief commercial artery.
“I like bike lanes, but I am concerned that we are looking to put far too much on Washington Street,” said Peter Cunningham, Councilman for Hoboken’s 5th Ward, speaking with hMAG last week following the packed-house meeting debating the proposed move. Cunningham added, “We can still have a bike lane that meets ‘complete streets’ but I think it needs to be a road sharing type of lane.” Regarding protected bike lanes, Cunningham expressed support for moving them to basically any street other than Washington, hinting, “I think we are moving in a more collaborative fashion.”
Following an 8-1 City Council vote last night, that appears to be the path Hoboken is taking.
In a statement released today, Mayor Zimmer said, “I look forward to working with the City Council going forward to try protected bike lanes on other less commercial and busy city streets. It will also be important to implement new parking policies that will ensure that the Class II bike lanes from Observer Highway to 8th Street.”
Class II bike lines are painted bike lanes on roadways, rather than fully protected, dedicated bicycle paths. Further north of 8th Street, where space is arguably tighter, there will be “shared lane markings.”
“For the safety of our community, we need to work together to address our double parking issue, otherwise cyclists will be forced into the traffic lane again and again by all the double-parked cars and the numerous car crashes will continue,” said Mayor Zimmer. “I want to thank Council President Giattino and the Transportation subcommittee for agreeing to work together to implement new parking policies designed to facilitate more legal parking so that our street is safe and convenient for all modes of transportation, including bicyclists.”
With the need to repair Washington Street being a source of constant aggravation for Hobokenites, Councilman-at-Large Ravinder Bhalla notes, “although bike lanes consumed all the oxygen in the air during the debate of this issue, the project passed last night also includes upgrading our water system for the full length of Washington Street and installing modern traffic signals that can be synchronized to improve traffic flow. The project also includes pedestrian countdown times and bump outs to make Washington Street safer for pedestrians. It also includes green infrastructure that will beautify Washington Street and capture rainwater during storm events. Finally, a conduit for a micro-grid will provide backup power for our critical facilities in the event of a major emergency.”