With the launch of its own bike-share system last October, Hoboken took a huge step towards becoming a truly bike-friendly city. And now it’s preparing to take the next leap: redesigning Washington Street, a dangerous and highly-trafficked corridor, to better accommodate people on foot and on bikes.
Washington Street is home to Hoboken City Hall, numerous businesses and residences, two bike share stations, three bus stops and connections to Hoboken Terminal. And it’s Hoboken’s most dangerous road: between 2013 and 2015, there were more than 300 traffic crashes, including a pedestrian fatality. The redesign would narrow the four-lane corridor to a two-lane street with parking-protected bike lanes while adding loading zones, traffic signals, floating bus stops, curb cuts and ADA ramps.
The majority of Hoboken commuters don’t drive and more than a third of city households are car-free. As a major thoroughfare for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders alike, Washington Street should be redesigned to emphasize the safety of all road users. The proposal, however, has not been without a few bumps along the way. A 2014 proposal for the street’s redesign reduced the 17-block street’s 555 parking spaces by 16 spots (a 3 percent reduction) to the ire of local businesses and residents. The revamped proposal now preserves all the spaces thanks to 60-degree back-in angled parking uptown and relocated fire hydrants.
Still, Washington Street business owners and stakeholders have been vocal about their opinions on the new design–specifically regarding the bike lanes. At a business community meeting last Friday, some suggested the relocation of the lanes to less trafficked streets or to the waterfront. Other attendees also expressed concerns that the lanes would negatively affect businesses by deterring double parking and potential customers.
A number of studies, however, have proven the opposite: that more bikes mean more business. Luckily, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has made the connection between complete streets and better business, telling the Hudson Reporter the plan would help, rather than hurt the business community.
Hoboken is hosting a community meeting tonight, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers, to discuss the final design for the plan. City Council is expected to vote on resolution for the plan on Wednesday, February 17.