Transcending car culture
Sep 30, 2012 | 4172 views | 2 2 comments | 77 77 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

Already a New Jersey standout, Hoboken is more bicycle-friendly, more auto-alternative, than anyplace else in the Garden State. Those hurling barnyard humor at Ian Sacs as he departs seem wedded to 1950s ideology, and blind to Hoboken’s current transportation situation.

Hoboken isn’t Route 22— it’s something much better. Sacs, like others, knew it isn’t the traffic that generates the commerce; it’s the people.

It’s true that “[c]ars bring people and revenue into Hoboken either through people who live, work or study here or people visiting our wonderful restaurants, bars and shops, which employ lots of people.” But other modes also do that. Most shop owners don’t care how the customer got to the door. Some of them do—with a grimace—when they reimburse the customer’s’ parking fee, an added cost to a business bottom line.

By contrast, when I walk from home to that Hoboken restaurant, there’s no added cost to the business. I’m a better fiscal prospect, as is my brother, arriving from out of town by train. Times Square’s pedestrian plaza is indeed instructive; the local merchants there (and elsewhere in the boroughs) love the increased business such plazas have generated.

To be sure, rubber-tired traffic needs continued access to Hoboken, but carheads fail to find a way to store ever-larger quantities of one-ton vehicles—or cover the full cost. It’s well-demonstrated that parking lots and decks are considered a “low-cost, low-yield” revenue generator, not the primary way to foster a city’s economic vitality. Simply put, cars and trucks cost more to handle per person moved. And that’s not counting the infrastructure damage, environmental stress, and safety hazards those vehicles contribute.

Some of us who do drive and who do own an automobile (I’m one) believe mixed-use streets regulates automotive traffic flow, promoting better safety conditions in the process for all concerned. Put politically, safety benefits residents and constituents of varying stripes, for in real life we drive, walk, bicycle, and/or ride the train, light rail, or ferry. We don’t “vote” our movement in monomodal fashion.

Life is more than “windshield perspective,” at least here in Hoboken. “Auto-uber-alles” thinking has had its turn. It is clearly (and increasingly) deficient as a policy. Ian Sacs knew that.

All the best to him.
Douglas John Bowen

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October 02, 2012
Where was this attitude when the city powers that be decided to use the western route for the HBLR? The city's business district would have been far better served through the eastern alignment that would let people take the HBLR to places they actually wanted to go. As it is, I will continue to drive into Hoboken as the walk from the HBLR stations is generally too far from any business I would like to use.
October 01, 2012
Director Ian Sacs has done a very good job for Hoboken and raised the bar for all future Directors.