Hoboken council approves Washington Street redesign with no uptown bike lanes, some added downtown, ability to double-park

HOBOKEN – A debated plan to redesign Hoboken’s Washington Street came down to a vote on Wednesday, Feb. 17 to ‘OK’ the project with some adjustments; namely removing uptown bike lanes from the plan and creating on-road bike lanes downtown.

In the past two weeks, commuters and business owners have spoken against protected bike lanes. Residents expressed concerns that the six foot bike lanes (4 foot for each lane and a two-foot buffer) would narrow Washington Street, hurt business, and deter double-parking.

The city says studies prove the opposite in regard to the bike lanes attracting business.

In attempts to reach a middle ground, the City Council voted 8-1 to move ahead with an amended plan that would add on-road bike lanes downtown located between the parked cars and moving traffic, and sharrows uptown north of 8th Street. Sharrows are markings on the road reminding drivers they share the road with cyclists.

The plan still narrows Washington Street’s roadway.

Travel lanes on both sides of town will be narrowed from the current 17 feet on each side to 14 feet and 11 feet respectively in order to accommodate the sharrows (uptown) and Class 2 bike lanes (downtown). At the meeting T&M said they’d have to lay out models to determine whether the sharrows are a viable option for uptown – where the roadways would be altered to 14 feet if that was the case. As for downtown, the travel lanes would be shortened to approximately 11 feet on each side to accommodate the Class 2 lanes.

“We’re not anti-bike. I ride a bike myself and people that ride bikes on Washington St. are saying to me they wouldn’t ride in the dedicated lane,” business owner Eugene Flynn said at the meeting.

The on-road Class 2 bike lanes, as part of the $15 million redesign, differentiate from the original Class 1 “protected bike lanes” as they have painted buffers as opposed to rubberized buffers. These type of bike lanes allow for emergency vehicles and others to infringe upon them if the situation calls for it.

City Council President Jen Giattino was the only council member to vote the plan down, saying amendments to the redesign were made at the meeting by council members, who are not engineers.

City officials say that Washington Street, which saw over 300 accidents from 2013 to 2015, is the most dangerous street in Hoboken.

There was some confusion during the meeting.

A resolution to pass a “flexible plan” – that would make the bike lanes a topic of conversation for a latter date – was put forth on the agenda by Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s administration. Zimmer also wrote a letter to council members (dated Feb. 12) saying, “I have asked T&M to revise the plan into a flexible design that could be implemented with no bike lanes or possibly converted to include protected bike lanes at a later date, if the public and council support it.”

However, that resolution received no sponsors from any council member. In its place was a resolution that was added to the agenda last minute – so late in fact that City Clerk Jerry Lore was not able to place it on the online version of the agenda before the meeting. Lore provided physical copies at the meeting.

The new resolution, which was approved, was to authorize the Class 2 bike design and the engineering plan for Washington Street.

Half a dozen residents who spoke Wednesday said they were upset the public was not provided copies of the final concept prior to the meeting.

The city will still have to vote to bond for aspects of the project.

At the meeting T & M Associates, the engineering consultants heading the project, said many residents did reach a consensus in regard to the major street and safety improvements that are part of the project. These upgrades include adding synchronized lighting, new traffic signals, new water mains, ADA curb ramps, establishing a micro-grid to act as an electrical backup system and roadway resurfacing.

Read our full story at www.hudsonreporter.com this weekend or pick up an issue of The Hoboken Reporter on your doorstep.– Steven Rodas

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