By the end of this year, it’s going to be very, very easy to bike around Hoboken.
Thanks to an ordinance unanimously approved by the Hoboken City Council last year, the city is now at work implementing ten miles of new bike lanes. That number might seem small, until you realize that Hoboken only has 32 miles of streets in total. Throw in the almost two and a half miles of existing bike lanes in the Mile Square City, and just about 40 percent the streets in town will have bike lanes. Include sharrows and approximately 80 percent of the streets in Hoboken will have some kind of cycling designation.
The marquee bike project, though, is the city’s ongoing redesign of Observer Highway, where a federally funded project will add a 0.34 mile two-way protected bike lane (also known as a cycle track), among other changes. The city wants to rechristen the road, which runs right to Hoboken’s multi-modal transit hub, as “Observer Boulevard.” That project could be completed this year, though if federal approvals lag it will be pushed into 2013, according to city spokesperson Juan Melli.
Most of the cycle tracks built in the United States have been located in large cities — New York City’s protected Ninth Avenue lane helped prove the viability of the treatment — but Hoboken’s plans are part of a new trend as protected lanes start to pop up in smaller cities and towns. Evanston, Illinois is building a cycle track this summer to provide a safe connection to its waterfront path.
On top of the new bike lanes, Hoboken hopes to launch a joint bike-share system this summer, said Melli. The program would be run in conjunction with the Hudson County Transportation Management Association, so that the system can expand into Jersey City, which is also interested in bike-share, and then to other neighboring towns. An RFP is expected this spring.
This impressive commitment to the city’s bike infrastructure is just a part of Hoboken’s larger investment in sustainable transportation. Under Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Transportation Director Ian Sacs, Hoboken has also planned a slew of pedestrian safety improvements, created space for car-sharing across the city, offered a basket of incentives for residents who give up their vehicles, urged drivers to stick below 20 miles per hour and revitalized its shuttle bus service.