Jersey City and Hoboken have begun improving pedestrian safety and increasing bicycle access in order to be more environmentally friendly, improve the quality of life, and perhaps even open up a little parking if people use alternatives to cars.
Recently, Hoboken, a city that’s only one square mile in size and is constantly grappling with parking issues, some residents have begun to look at different, non-motorized forms of transportation.
The Hoboken Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan held a workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 30 so residents could meet with representatives from the RBA Group, the engineering and architectural firm conducting a citywide study of how to make the streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The study is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
“We have encouragement from the consultant for us to consider every street for bike lanes.” – Ian Sacs
One Hoboken resident who attended the event, Samantha Lopez, is gearing up to establish a bicycle rental program based in Hoboken.
“I was inspired by a trip to Europe,” Lopez said. “Everyone was on a bike. They were aged 0-90, sometimes older.”
Lopez sees bicycling as a partial solution to the parking shortage in Hoboken.
“There’s the aggravation in Hoboken of going across town to see family, and trying to find a parking spot,” Lopez said. “It can turn into an hour-long ordeal.”
Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs said the meeting was an indication of the progress the city has and will continue to make to make bicycle riding easier in the community.
Recommendations for Hoboken
A “compilation of input from the RBA Group and the city” was available at the workshop. Sacs said he has seen citizens pay a lot of attention to detail with regards to safety issues since the beginning of the program.
The plan calls for additional bike lanes throughout the city, broken down into “classes.”
An example of a Class One bike lane is along the walkway on Sinatra Drive downtown, which separates the roadway completely from a bike lane. A Class Two bike lane establishes a lane for bicyclists on a city street, such as on Grand and Madison streets. A Class Three bike lane is categorized as a street which is designated a safe street for bicyclists, and includes what are called “sharrows” – or shared arrows, where paint warns drivers that bicyclists are travelling on the street.
A proposed improvement on display last week would paint intersections, and include ergonomic crosswalks, which are wider and safer paths for pedestrians, in the downtown area near Hudson, Newark, and River streets.
The plans on display also outlined possibly re-instituting no parking on Sundays on Sinatra Drive, conducting a feasibility study to remove on-street parking, promoting bicycle sharing, installing “wrong way” and “ride with traffic” signs on streets for bicyclists, and resurfacing roads. If the draft plans come to fruition, symbolic gestures such as the city promoting a bike program or quarterly press releases on bicyclist and pedestrian safety would be made.
The draft of recommendations also includes priority intersection improvements along Washington Street, as well as traffic-calming measures throughout the city.
“We have encouragement from the consultant for us to consider every street in Hoboken for bike lanes,” Sacs said.
After the study is completed following more public meetings, Sacs said he hopes to take the plan and “legislate with it.”
Sacs hopes that the city can add additional bike lanes and expand on bike safety efforts already in place.
The city of Hoboken needs a menu of options to fix the parking issues in Hoboken, according to Sacs, and he believes that by adding options other than driving, the problems will eventually ease.
Jersey City bikes, too
Meanwhile, next door, a Jersey City group is gaining traction on two wheels. Bike JC, a bicycle advocacy group that began a year ago, has held group rides through Liberty State Park, and promoted bicycle safety throughout Jersey City.
Bike advocacy has yielded mixed results. In 2008, over 280 signs were posted on various Jersey City streets that read “BIKE ROUTE” and “SHARE THE ROAD” but no painted bike lanes were added. Bike JC members have met with city planning officials in the last few months to encourage the implementation of bike lanes, pointing out that Hoboken has put in bike lanes on its streets.
A Jersey City spokesperson has previously said that although bike lanes were not installed throughout the city, nearly 200 bike racks have been installed, primarily at transportation hubs like Grove Street, Journal Square, and the Exchange Place PATH stations.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com