Recently, the Zimmer Administration tried to create protected bike lanes on Washington Street, only to have the idea voted down by concerned business owners who would rather see double parked cars than bicycle safety.
Now, the city is trying to create new protected bike lanes on Clinton, Grand, Harrison and Newark. Bike Hoboken has also proposed protected lanes on Jefferson & Madison. A protected bike lane is designed like this:
Protected bike lanes are a simple concept, really: they're like sidewalks for bikes. Because they use planters, curbs, parked cars or posts to separate bike and auto traffic on busy streets, protected lanes are essential to building a full network of bike-friendly routes.
Not every street in Hoboken is ideal for a protected bike lane. Clinton, for example, is very wide. Also, some are concerned with loss of street parking, but that can be addressed by making a protected bike lane like they have created in other cities which includes parking: View image.
Over the last year I have used the Hudson Bike Share, NextBike. It isn't as good as CitiBike, I think it takes too long to lock/unlock bikes, but I still use it very often, for one key reason - parking in Hoboken is terrible. Many times I need to do quick errands, like get a haircut. I go to Hoboken Man on 11th and Maxwell Lane. But, I live on Newark and Willow. What are my options? I can walk, which would take me about 15-20 minutes. I can get an Uber, which would cost about $5-7. I can take the bus, which costs only $1.60, but the frequency can be difficult, and I have to walk up to Washington Street to catch one. Or, I can use NextBike.
When I use the bike, and i'm in the middle of town, my first thought is...how do I get to 11th and Maxwell? I rode my bike along Park to 11th street, and then turned at 11th street to Maxwell Place. This, my friends, is a nightmare. I'm a pretty big guy at 6'4 and i'm used to riding bikes my whole life in the suburbs and with CitiBike in NYC. It is like the Wild West riding a bike in Hoboken - every man for himself.
My head is on a swivel, looking at car doors to make sure they don't open up quickly, nearly getting clipped by vans on the street, keeping an eye on pedestrians on the street corners (especially baby strollers). When I got to my haircut, my heart was racing - because I was stressed out from the bike ride.
Having protected bike lanes would solve this crisis. It would make it easier for able bodied pedestrians to get around town without having to use taxis or buses. We aren't a large town, but walking up to 14th street can be a daunting proposition. The new Trader Joe's is coming soon, and I would love to wake up on a Saturday, grab a bike, and do a quick shop there. Maybe, I want to try brunch at the new restaurant Porter Collins that is opening on 15th street by Chef Anthony and Liz Pino, owners/founders of Pino Hospitality (which own Bin 14 and Anthony David's).
What are we going to do, jump in a car, street parking is impossible. I love Uber, but paying $7 every time I just want to go to the other side of town...plus another $7 to get home, who wants to pay that extra money? Walking just takes too long, I have done it multiple times over the years. After riding bikes for the last year with NextBike, I dread the idea of riding a bike in Hoboken because I don't feel safe.
Here is a recent picture I took on Clinton Street, outside of Piccolo's where cars park for lunch in the bike lanes:
This happens all over town. There is lack of parking, and the mindset of these drivers is they want to eat at Piccolo's. Their solution - is to double park. If people want to drive into town, we need to make it easier for people to park on the street. I think a good solution is the Zimmer proposal to add metered parking on all streets. I'm all for it, especially if the meters generate revenue to keep our streets clean and for timely street repavings.
We won't be able to solve all our solutions, in a year, but I know we need protected bike lanes on key Hoboken streets to encourage people to use their bikes, rather than driving their cars.