I have lived in Hoboken and have walked along and across Washington Street (WS) for over 37 years. I have grown to appreciate WS’s wide traffic lanes which give drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians the maneuverability to adjust to transient conditions, such as vehicles temporarily double parked for visits or deliveries to doctors, restaurants, or stores. The wide streets provide the space and the sight-lines needed for cars, bikes, and pedestrians to effectively maneuver around each other, minimizing the slow-down of traffic due to vehicle pauses for parking, turning, drop-offs, and pick-ups.
The WS “Complete Street Redesign” Plan will eliminate this maneuverability because the insertion of bike lanes between the curb and the parking lane will reduce the width of the actual traffic lane from 17 to 11 feet, which is barely wide enough to accommodate a bus. The WS Redesign will tighten the traffic lanes to a point where there is no maneuverability, resulting in a slow-down of traffic (since any temporary stop or turn will cause all of the traffic lined up behind to stop and wait) and an increase in dangerous collisions. Also, the frustration triggered by these narrowed and slowed lanes of traffic will result in erratic turns off of WS onto parallel neighborhood streets where the frustrated drivers will speed to make up for lost time, thereby endangering a wider set of roadways.
It is clear that a major purpose of this WS Redesign is to insert bike lanes into WS. Sadly, this administration’s willingness to implement this redesign does not recognize that bikers (as well as pedestrians and drivers) are better served by the existing wide WS, whose width allows the flexibility and maneuverability required to keep bikers, pedestrians, and vehicle drivers and passengers safe and to keep traffic moving at a reasonable speed. The WS Redesign plan has three separate lanes in each direction: the vehicle traffic and bike lanes are separated by a lane of parked cars. By creating bike lanes which are totally separated from the vehicle traffic lanes, six feet of maneuverability are removed from the traffic lanes, endangering pedestrians, drivers, and bikers alike.
This WS Redesign completely ignores the fact that pedestrians, drivers, and bikers have all worked very well with the existing WS. Yes, WS needs to be repaved and could benefit from better pedestrian crossing signs and better, more elevated, lighting, but the basic wide street structure has been demonstrably safe and reliable for decades and should be left as it is.
The Hoboken City Council should provide evidence that they are concerned about whether the present WS Redesign is a truly a good idea and acceptable to the public. Since the present Redesign’s safety and public approval is so questionable, the Council should either remove the narrowed traffic lanes and separate bike lanes from the Redesign or put the Redesign on the ballot for a referendum vote and adopt it only if approved by a majority of the voters.