We had a great meeting last week and we wanted to share the press release here.
Bike Hoboken held its first meeting last night (Wednesday February 24th) at Carpe Diem restaurant in Hoboken. In attendance were 5th Ward Councilman, Peter Cunningham, 3rd Ward Councilman, Mike Russo and his wife, candidate for 2nd Ward, Tom Greaney, Jay DiDomenico of the Hudson Transportation Management Association (TMA) and Ian Sacs, Hoboken’s Transportation Director. Founding members Chris Giannini and Josh Meyers led the meeting which was attended by over 20 residents.
The round table format addressed a multitude of important issues. Residents said often they felt unsafe when riding a bike in and around Hoboken, in particular when with their children. The need for better enforcement of existing vehicular traffic laws was discussed, especially with regard to cars parked too close to the corner, which diminishes visibility for everyone, double parking and speeding. Cyclists and pedestrians need to ride and walk in a responsible, safe fashion. It was agreed that texting while crossing the street and riding the wrong way down a one-way street were examples of unacceptable behavior. The discussion focused on the important need to balance competing interests of various modes of transportation. It was noted that a 4,000 pound car traveling at 25 miles an hour or more posed a much greater risk to pedestrians and cyclists than any pedestrian or cyclist ever could pose to a driver.
The need for additional, safe bike parking in many areas of Hoboken was mentioned, such as at the PATH, along Washington Street and at the sites of other business establishments and recreational areas. Residents expressed frustration at not having bike parking in their apartment buildings and in local parking lots. Proposals to possibly convert the existing, now unused parking meter poles into bike parking and to expand bike parking into the no-parking areas currently partitioned off by the orange ballasts on many Hoboken corners.
Jay DiDomenico, of Hudson TMA, explained resources his organization offers to promote safety and public education programs at no cost to the City; including seminars for children and community groups. In the past, these events have not been very well attended, but it was hoped that greater publicity would increase attendance. The desire to reduce traffic, increased gas prices, the need to reduce congestion, the recent increase in bike lanes and bike parking in Hoboken, have caused a shift to take place in our transportation mix. With the goal of reducing traffic congestion and the difficulty of finding street parking, more and more Hoboken residents are taking to the streets and bike path on bicycles. Addressed safely, this change can help alleviate many local problems and can become another of the many attributes Hoboken has to offer. For a geographically small city, Hoboken is an ideal place for bicycling for pleasure, sport and to commute.
The many recent improvements made in Hoboken’s transportation environment were highlighted by Ian Sacs. The mere existence of bike lanes have proven to significantly reduce vehicular traffic speeds along Grand and Madison Streets. Ian explained the possibility for a full-fledged bike sharing program in which residents would have use of bikes parked throughout the City at minimal cost. Bike sharing programs have been extremely successful in almost every European city and many places like Washington D.C. and Boston. Future initiatives Ian and the group discussed include encouraging local businesses to sponsor new bike racks; the possibility of indoor free or paid bike parking at the municipal and possibly private garages; having delivery people deliver food by bike rather than by car; and working within the recommendations of the Hoboken Master Plan and the extensive study the RBA Group completed. This study resulted in the Hoboken Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, created by RBA with extensive community input.
Another idea already underway is the creation of a directory for all residential buildings in Hoboken which offer bike parking to residents and a description of the type of parking offered (i.e, locked room, a rack, etc.). Many Hobokenites live in very small apartments and don’t wish to keep a bike in their living room or feel it is not safe to park overnight on the street. A condo like Garden Street Lofts, that has a state-of-the-art, double tier bike rack inside a locked room in the parking garage is an enviable amenity for home buyers.
For many of us a bicycle is the first step to adulthood and independence. It is a way to move around while still remaining connected to your surroundings. Riding a bike is convenient, inexpensive, and fun. The members of Bike Hoboken together with the cooperation of the local government and involvement of Hoboken’s residents can make riding a bike in Hoboken safe, freeing and fun again. This meeting was the beginning of a great journey toward a worthy goal of making Hoboken a bike friendly place to visit and live.