At heated Hoboken meeting, residents say they don’t want Washington Street narrowed for bike lanes

HOBOKEN – Tensions were high as over 200 residents and city officials packed the City Council chambers on Monday, Feb. 8 at a special meeting to discuss a plan to redesign Hoboken’s Washington Street.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer says the $15 million plan will improve safety and create a “complete street” with a designated area for parked/traveling cars, residents, and bicyclists.
A vote to finalize the plan will come before the City Council on Wednesday Feb. 17.
At Monday night’s meeting, which ran from 7 p.m. to midnight, T&M Associates presented the current proposal for Washington Street, which narrows the roadway from 17 feet of travel lanes on each side to 11 feet.
While many at the meeting championed efforts to replace the street’s infrastructure, repave the roadway, and install traffic safety measures, an overwhelming majority of people said bike lanes on the thoroughfare would hurt businesses and the quality of life. The notion that double-parking hurts the busy thoroughfare was also challenged by many.
“At a meeting on Friday I had one question: Are the bike lanes [in the plan] to encourage biking, or are they here to eliminate double parking? And [T&M Associates] said its here to eliminate double-parking. What is so horrible about double parking?” said Hoboken business owner Ernie Reyes, whose father has owned a Washington Street establishment since the 1970’s. “You’ve all done it, I’m sure.”
The city has said that it can be dangerous.
Per the current concepts, Washington Street’s two broad travel lanes would be shortened for one bicycle lane on each side, and two lanes for parking.
“I was hear to listen tonight and I heard loud and clear the majority of the people’s concern surrounds the bike lanes,” said Council-at-large James Doyle.
Doyle, like many council members, said he’d keep an open-mind while waiting for engineers to assess some underlying concerns that the public made during the meeting. Concerns like the potential for a negative impact on response times for emergency vehicles on the busy corridor or people being struck by bicycles when exiting their cars.
Only a handful in attendance said the bike lanes were a positive because they give cyclists a designated area. Others, who said the waterfront or Hudson Street is more ideal for a bike lane, disputed such claims.
Read “Word on Washington St.” at for our story on the redesign plan and visit the website this weekend for the full story on Monday’s community meeting. – Steven Rodas

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