Meeting Monday night over Washington Street redesign plan, including narrowing driving space to fit bike lanes

HOBOKEN – During a contentious meeting Friday morning in the basement of City Hall, as many as 50 business owners and community stakeholders blasted a plan from the city to redesign Washington Street. The room was largely in consensus that the city’s main corridor, which is also considered the most dangerous street in the city, should not have bike lanes.
The $15 million plan calls to slim down Washington Street from 17 feet of travel lanes on each side to 11 feet, with eight-foot parking lanes and six-foot bike lanes on each side. The redesign, headed by T&M Associates, touts pedestrian safety measures, moderated traffic flow, reduction in motor vehicle accidents, and commercial loading availability.
In order to maintain parking capacity, the city is considering moving fire hydrants to corners and adding angle parking to some areas. The 17-block stretch of road has approximately 500 spaces, according to City Spokesman Juan Melli.
The city said held an “extensive public process” to design the plan, but many business owners, chiefly those on Washington Street, voiced their concerns this morning. At the meeting they claimed that double-parking is part of the fabric of the city’s thoroughfare and businesses would suffer at the loss of it. They also said bike lanes are better reserved for other sections of the city.
“As you heard from everybody here today, they are puzzled over why [adding bike lanes needs] to be done,” President of the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce Richard Mackiewicz told The Hoboken Reporter this morning after the meeting.
“I think the biggest identified concern is the bike lanes and whether they would be better suited on Bloomfield and Hudson [Street],” he said.
John Sisti, the broker of Hudson Place Realty, who commonly cycles in the city, also suggested the waterfront as an option for protected bike lanes.
Eugene Flinn, who owns three businesses in Hoboken, including Amanda’s and Elysian Café, said during the meeting, “You’re squeezing Washington Street. There are hundreds of issues over why the bike lanes should not be put on Washington Street and there are hundreds of issues as to why we should go ahead with this project to make our Washington Street more viable and safer too.”
“I think you would get compromise from 92 percent or 100 percent of people in this room if they would look at this project and say you know what we’re gonna rethink this take the bike lane off Washington Street,” Flinn added, to the applause of those in attendance.
Some are in favor of the bike lanes.
“It’s not about how we make it easier for drivers,” said Ronald Bautista, a lead advocate for local organization Bike Hoboken. “It’s how we make it easier for people to move around. The lanes will allow people to move around without driving. The traffic flow overall will improve with the upgrades of the traffic signals and that’s going to be positive for the city.”
Jaclyn Flor, the Vice President of T&M Associates, said the plan is not finalized and comments from the meeting will be taken into account. A vote will be made by the City Council on Feb. 17 and a community meeting will be held this Monday, Feb. 8 to continue discussing the plan.
Read a full story on the Washington Street redesign by visiting this weekend or picking up a paper at your doorstep.

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