It is abundantly clear after Monday’s city council meeting that the people of Hoboken are overwhelmingly against the proposed bike lanes on Washington Street. Even the mayor’s own supporters are against the proposal by large numbers. There are very good reasons for this. According to the plan, the bike lanes and buffer zone will comprise 12 percent of the space between storefronts on either side of Washington. That is a very poor use of resources when bicyclists comprise a far smaller to negligible percentage of the traveling population. Even in the unlikely event that the bicycle population tripled, such a large allocation of finite space could not be justified. From an aesthetics perspective, the loud lime green striping is a sharp departure from the historic nature of Washington Street. Further, as time goes by, the green striping only serves to highlight all of the dirt and grime that is otherwise largely camouflaged by asphalt. This can be seen in New York City. The contraction of space for vehicular traffic that bike lanes impose will likely negatively impact traffic flows. This is a quality of life issue for anyone who would like to get home or to work at a reasonable hour. We have seen this already in other parts of Hoboken where bike lanes have been rammed through. Delays, diminished air quality and noise pollution are all direct results of a clogged flow of traffic. Worse still, bike lane induced traffic jams could prove downright tragic for anyone who needs help from a fireman, police officer or ambulance. Forgetting for a moment, the very sound grounds for rejecting bike lanes on Washington Street, just on policy, there is another very important reason to jettison this half-baked idea. The community does not want it.
Elected officials often correctly exercise their own judgment even when it runs contrary to popular will either because they are more informed on a complicated matter than the public at-large or to protect the rights of a minority. Neither is the case in this instance. This is not a complicated transaction with particulars that are difficult to understand. One can easily come to an opinion on whether they would like to see bike lanes on Washington Street without reading up all that much on the subject or even at all. While bicyclists are a very small minority in Hoboken they are not a protected minority. Anyone who has spent time stuck waiting in the Lincoln Tunnel can appreciate the bicyclist’s desire to have an exclusive lane of traffic all to themselves thru which they can zip thru town. Unfortunately this luxury comes at the expense of everyone else and shorter commutes are not a civil right or an issue of equal-protection that should cause any councilperson to reject the will of the community. I urge the City Council to implement the needed improvements to Washington Street and reject the bike lanes.