Hoboken Bike Lanes: Q&A

6/17/2009:

Hoboken411 reader Ian Sacs is a big proponent of the recently implemented Bike Lanes in Hoboken. He’s taken the opportunity to address many of the concerns those who might not yet be convinced that these bike lanes are a positive addition to our community.

hoboken-bike-lanes-discussion

Addressing Criticisms of Hoboken Bike Lanes

“I live in Hoboken, New Jersey. It is a small (~50k residents), very densely populated city (fourth in the country), with high pedestrian volumes and some hairy traffic issues in certain areas. With heavy rail, light rail, subway, bus, ferry, taxi, bicycle, pedestrian, and para-transit all converging at Hoboken Terminal, it is also home to perhaps the richest intermodal transportation facility in the world (in terms of modes). It is often characterized as feeling European, or like Brooklyn, take your pick. Recently, we have been successful in implementing a nascent bicycle plan that includes bike lanes striped along the length of two north/south avenues in the heart of the city. Cross streets are next with “sharrows” since these streets are too narrow for exclusive lanes. The response has been overwhelmingly positive; however, there are very legitimate critical comments from the community about the new bike lanes as well. Below are the top five of these that I have gathered via local blog posts, with responses that should be appropriate for many other cities undergoing similar discussions with doubtful members of their communities.”

Comment #1: Bike lanes are a stupid idea and will be a failure.
Response: Encouraging bicycling is based on a simple fact: When more people choose to bike in Hoboken, fewer cars are on the street, and parking becomes more readily available. The goal of bike lanes is to send the message that bicycles belong, and are welcome, on the city’s public streets as a viable form of daily transportation. They also have the side benefit of reducing speeding by giving drivers a narrower lane in which to navigate. Introducing bike lanes is a major shift from the auto-dominated streets of yesterday; however, many cities in America and around the world have had similar initial concerns with very positive results. The opinions of doubtful and skeptical residents are important; however, we also ask that the bike lanes are given a chance to demonstrate whether or not they are adopted by the general public.

READ THE OTHER FOUR POINTS AFTER THE JUMP!

(Hoboken Bike Lane concerns, continued…)

Comment #2: I can see cars double-parked in the bike lane from my window.. they will never work.
Response: As bike lanes become more actively used by bikers, some drivers will learn to respect these lanes and keep them clear. Nonetheless, others may choose to deliberately use these lanes for double parking or other purposes. This can be addressed in different ways. Enforcement of double parking laws is certainly one way to discourage this, but does not get to the heart of the problem. The root cause of double parking is, of course, not having enough curbside parking spaces available. It is clear that this issue will be looked at by the city more seriously in coming months, hopefully to the relief of both drivers and bicyclists. That being said, our streets are used by many, many people each day and it should be expected that different uses (i.e. parking and biking) will occasionally overlap. The best course of action as a community is to share the streetspace when possible using respect, caution, and deliberate care. In that vein, drivers who choose to illegally double park would best demonstrate their respect for bikers and bike lanes by doing so on the side of the street opposite the bike lane, so that passing motor vehicles are forced to slow down and carefully enter the bike lane to negotiate around a double-parked car, rather than vice-versa.

Comment #3: Bike lanes are dangerous because bikers may swerve out into traffic to avoid potholes, debris, or double parked cars, or dart out in front of traffic at cross streets.
Response: Bikers are expected to ride with due care, caution, and concern for themselves and others around them. They are also expected to follow the same laws and rules as motor vehicles, including staying alert, driving defensively, changing lanes with caution, and stopping at signs and signals. If a biker needs to change lanes (from the bike lane into the vehicular lane), she should do so as if she were driving a car (except for the turn signal) by checking first that she will not be pulling in front of faster moving traffic coming up from behind, carefully and deliberately changing lanes (from the bike lane into the vehicular lane), passing the object that forced the switch, and then similarly changing back into the bike lane as soon as is practicable. Swerving and careless riding is punishable by law just as it is in a motor vehicle. At intersections, riders are similarly expected to obey all traffic signs and signals.

Comment #4: Bike lanes are more dangerous than simply sharing the street.
Response: Bike lanes should never be touted as offering safety or protection from drivers; rather, the goal of bike lanes is to send the message that bicycles belong, and are welcome, on the city’s public streets. There is truth to the idea that a bike lane can provide a false sense of security, but it is up to the biker to behave with due care and caution so that they protect themselves and people around them. On the other hand, bike lanes also send a clear message to drivers that they are not supposed to be in (or near) the bike lane. You can already see this message being followed along Madison and Grand Streets, where most cars position themselves in the center of the new lane created between the cars parked on the right side of the road and the newly marked bike lane. Just as Hobokenites are much more aware of pedestrians than drivers in other New Jersey cities, increased safety for bicyclists will come with greater numbers of bikes on the street and, hence, a greater awareness of bikes by drivers. Examples from cities all around America and internationally have shown that as drivers become more familiar with greater numbers of bikers on the street, the risk of accidents between the two decreases.

Comment #5: The bike lanes are on the wrong (left) side of the street, isn’t that illegal?
Response: Precedents in other American cities (New York City, Minneapolis) have shown that on one-way streets with parallel parking on both sides, bikers benefit from a much lower risk of being “doored” (unexpectedly hit by a car door opening) when the bike lane is on the left side of the street adjacent to the passenger-side door (instead of the driver-side door). This is particularly true during peak traffic periods when many vehicles have no passenger (solo commuters). Also, since drivers sit on the left side of cars, they have better visibility of bicyclists of all sizes. On streets with bus stops, left-side bike lanes prevent bicyclists from jockeying with buses (currently not the case in Hoboken, but also a design factor). Nonetheless, bikers should watch out for passenger doors opening, keep a reasonable distance from doors by staying in the far right portion of the bike lane, and remember to slow down or stop to avoid swerving into the vehicular lane if a door appears to be opening. New Jersey Statute 39:4-14.2 requires bicyclists to “ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable”; however, there is no specific regulation pertaining to the placement of exclusive bike lane markings. Therefore, bicyclists have a choice of riding either in the designated bike lane or to the far right. It is reasonable to assume that such nuances in the state law are absent due to the relative absence of bike lanes throughout New Jersey until very recently, and that these regulations will likely need to be updated for clarity to reflect the changing character of urban streets throughout the state. Until that time, bicyclists may choose to ride in Hoboken bike lanes placed on the left side of one-way streets for the reasons described above.
Ian Sacs, P.E. is a transportation (not traffic) engineer based in New York City.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BIKE LANES NOW?

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67 Comments on "Hoboken Bike Lanes: Q&A"

mooshu
Member
mooshu

The name “Wonder Store” reminds me of the Romantic Depot.

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

mooshu…Ohhh noooooo Mooshu. blush .Use be where CVS now stands on first and Washington St..Main floor Shoprite and
down stairs,clothing for adults and kids med priced but had
what most needed…Stay out of the romantic depot mooshu 🙂

In response to mooshu who said:
The name “Wonder Store” reminds me of the Romantic Depot.

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

mooshu..correction that low dose of lead got to me..Its Newark and Washington St was once Wonder Store..

In response to wiskeytango1 who said:
mooshu…Ohhh noooooo Mooshu. blush .Use be where CVS now stands on first and Washington St..Main floor Shoprite and
down stairs,clothing for adults and kids med priced but had
what most needed…Stay out of the romantic depot mooshu 🙂

justaview
Member
justaview

if it ain’t Micky Finns i ain’t shopping there!

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

Justaview.Mickey finns .Thats where we got our Easter Outfits .We saw each other going and coming .funny rotflmao

In response to justaview who said:
if it ain’t Micky Finns i ain’t shopping there!

justaview
Member
justaview

yea and our shoes & draws were from the bins in the wonder store under shoprite!

In response to wiskeytango1 who said:
Justaview.Mickey finns .Thats where we got our Easter Outfits .We saw each other going and coming .funny rotflmao

justaview
Member
justaview

shoprite, clothes & food in one massive store! you could play in the clothes racks in the basement and go upstairs for a treat! but “NO FOOD ALLOWED DOWNSTAIRS” wonder store policy

In response to justaview who said:
yea and our shoes & draws were from the bins in the wonder store under shoprite!

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

Wonder store,some good buys…Lots of irregular panties and
boxer briefs.Winter ski jackets were some of them name brands
with labels cut out…That was 30 years ago. Imagine you could
park and the meters were 1hr for a quarter.heyyyyyy

In response to justaview who said:
shoprite, clothes & food in one massive store! you could play in the clothes racks in the basement and go upstairs for a treat! but “NO FOOD ALLOWED DOWNSTAIRS” wonder store policy

strand tramp
Member
strand tramp

now i know how waters felt watching barrett. except i don’t care if this guy cashes out.

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

Keep it in the kicthen..Rattle them pots and pans..did you
pay my taxes yet?? Keep the pilots going girl..

In response to strand tramp who said:
now i know how waters felt watching barrett. except i don’t care if this guy cashes out.

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

Mooshu..They have to be in la la land.newbees…Central Park in NYC,is 1.32 square miles…Hoboken is slightly larger.
Come on now..get real..Where are you gonna fit more parks
open space,and plant trees so the birds can crap on your car?
Its ludacris..Mosshu is correct..It’s out of hand..

mooshu
Member
mooshu

The birds are alright. I like and take care of them. They were here first. And I love the idea of planting trees. However, as we know, once they become a nuisance, down they go.

Anyhoo, what sucks is our inability to tackle traffic issues, appropriately. Instead of being a little more aggressive in terms of seeking more lights, and a little more patient, we paint lines over our problems.

In response to wiskeytango1 who said:
Mooshu..They have to be in la la land.newbees…Central Park in NYC,is 1.32 square miles…Hoboken is slightly larger.
Come on now..get real..Where are you gonna fit more parks
open space,and plant trees so the birds can crap on your car?
Its ludacris..Mosshu is correct..It’s out of hand..

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

Mooshu.pal ..I know what you are aluding to..I was riding my tricycle on Grand St heading south when I hit a pot hole and did a cart wheel..The grocery bags went flying,and I landed in the hedges in front of 15 Church Towers…Im still pulling
twigs out of my rear end..When are they gonna pave the sts? I
forgot there is no money..Can I sue the city for my huskey bike.The front wheel is bent and i can only make right turns.

In response to mooshu who said:
The birds are alright. I like and take care of them. They were here first. And I love the idea of planting trees. However, as we know, once they become a nuisance, down they go.

Anyhoo, what sucks is our inability to tackle traffic issues, appropriately. Instead of being a little more aggressive in terms of seeking more lights, and a little more patient, we paint lines over our problems.

justaview
Member
justaview

u shudda had a big wheel, the suv of trikes!

In response to wiskeytango1 who said:
Mooshu.pal ..I know what you are aluding to..I was riding my tricycle on Grand St heading south when I hit a pot hole and did a cart wheel..The grocery bags went flying,and I landed in the hedges in front of 15 Church Towers…Im still pulling
twigs out of my rear end..When are they gonna pave the sts? I
forgot there is no money..Can I sue the city for my huskey bike.The front wheel is bent and i can only make right turns.

Red Haven
Member
Red Haven

justaview, you might like one of these shirts. They have a store on First Street.

solidthreads.com/servlet/the-14/sol...d-threads-funny-t-dsh-shirts/Detail

In response to justaview who said:
u shudda had a big wheel, the suv of trikes!

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

Just a view,rotflmao..My sons all had big wheels.in the 70s
If I was riding one I would have still fliped over..The thing that hurts most is my widdle basket on the handle bar is all bent up…Chit.Dam them pot holes..Dawn should have proposed a street paving before the bike lanes. Now I have to use a skate board.

In response to justaview who said:
u shudda had a big wheel, the suv of trikes!

wiskeytango1
Member
wiskeytango1

Regard Bike lanes..Was in Doms Bakery to purchase some items and recieved a summons for double pkg.The bike lanes were
the reason,and I deserved it..Expensive loaf of bread.:(

In response to wiskeytango1 who said:
Mooshu..They have to be in la la land.newbees…Central Park in NYC,is 1.32 square miles…Hoboken is slightly larger.
Come on now..get real..Where are you gonna fit more parks
open space,and plant trees so the birds can crap on your car?
Its ludacris..Mosshu is correct..It’s out of hand..

iansacs
Member

homeworld’s point is important. the bike lanes do not steal any capacity from cars, they only narrow the driving lane. the same number of cars can travel on a street with bike lanes than without. in fact, because the bike lanes make drivers slow down a bit, they can actually increase capacity, because drivers are more comfortable traveling closer together when traveling slower.

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