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Posts from the "Hoboken" Category

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Hoboken’s Main Drag Set for Ambitious Complete Streets Overhaul

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer has unveiled a plan to transform Washington Street, the Square Mile City’s main drag, with a two-way protected bike lane, super-sized curb extensions, and bus bulbs. The plan also includes expanded loading zones, new seating, bike racks, and bioswales for stormwater runoff.

Washington Street in Hoboken will feature a protected bike lane and expanded pedestrian space under a plan released this week. Image: The RBA Group

Washington Street in Hoboken will feature a protected bike lane, bus bulbs, and expanded pedestrian space under a plan released this week. Image: The RBA Group

The final design concept [PDF] was released at a meeting Tuesday night, capping nearly a year of public meetings and planning by the city and consultant The RBA Group.

Combined with other projects underway, a protected bikeway along the Washington Street commercial strip from the PATH station to the city’s northern edge could transform cycling in Hoboken. At its southern end, the Washington Street plan connects to Observer Highway, a four-lane street soon to receive a road diet and half-mile two-way protected bike lane [PDF]. Planning for that project dates to 2010, and the city says contracts for construction will go out to bid soon.

At the intersection of Washington and Observer Highway, the two-way bike paths will meet at a “T” intersection featuring dedicated space for cyclists to queue up before turning onto Washington. The path continues up the east side of Washington with a concrete buffer between cyclists and parked cars until 8th Street.

The remaining seven blocks, between 8th and 15th Streets, will have a protected bike lane only for northbound traffic, however, while southbound cyclists would use shared lane markings. The change was made in part to maximize on-street parking. South of 8th Street, Washington has parallel parking. The design north of 8th creates more space for angled back-in parking.

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Hoboken 2012: Bike Lanes Everywhere, Cycle Track and Bike-Share to Follow

New bike lanes are in the process of being striped on ten out of Hoboken's 32 miles of street this year. Image: City of Hoboken

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.

A redesign of Observer Highway, hopefully scheduled for this year, will include a two-way protected bike lane leading cyclists directly to Hoboken's transit hub. Image: City of Hoboken

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.

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Hoboken to Approach 80 Percent Bike Network Coverage

Photo: City of Hoboken

Adding to an impressive slate of cyclist and pedestrian improvements, Hoboken plans to stripe 10 additional miles of Class II bike lanes, toward a bike network that will cover close to 80 percent of the city’s streets.

The Hoboken City Council unanimously approved the new lane miles on Wednesday night. Said Mayor Dawn Zimmer in a statement: “By slowing down traffic, bike lanes make streets safer for everyone including drivers and pedestrians, and this lays an even stronger foundation for our ongoing pedestrian safety efforts.”

The new lane miles are part of Hoboken’s comprehensive bike and pedestrian plan, introduced last year. Other recent initiatives include a car-sharing program, incentives for residents to give up their cars; and a 20′s Plenty safe driving campaign.

According to the statement, Hoboken currently has 4.5 miles of bike lanes, including 0.34 miles of a Class I, 2.1 miles of Class II and 2.1 miles of Class III lanes. In addition to the 10 new miles of Class II lanes, 9.7 miles of sharrows will be painted on narrower streets. Add it up, and almost 80 percent of the city’s 32 street miles will feature some type of cycling designation.

“I expect not many other cities have statistics like that,” spokesperson Juan Melli told Streetsblog, “and hopefully it encourages others to follow suit.”

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Ambitious Bike-Ped Plan Latest Hoboken Livable Streets Coup

Near the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line, the Hoboken bike/ped plan calls for new crosswalks, __, and continuous sidewalks across __.

Near the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line, the Hoboken bike-ped plan calls for new crosswalks, colorized pavement to emphasize the intersections, and continuous sidewalks across driveways, instead of curb cuts.

It’s official. When it comes to livable streets, Hoboken is pulling out in front of every other New York City suburb. In some ways, the one-square-mile town is even lapping New York City. The latest in a string of envy-inducing projects under Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs is the city’s new bike and pedestrian plan.

As the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Zoe Baldwin writes, Hoboken has quickly emerged as a model of sustainable transportation policy in the last year. On Streetsblog, we’ve covered their Corner Cars program, which brings car-sharing to every corner of the small city by using on-street parking for shared vehicles; the Surrender Your Permit push, which offers a basket of incentives for residents who give up their cars; and the new 20′s Plenty campaign, urging drivers to slow down for safety. There’s also the revitalized shuttle bus service, the Hop, which has doubled in ridership since Zimmer took office a year ago.

Now, the city is developing a master bicycle and pedestrian plan. A draft is available online, and the public is invited to comment through this Monday. As currently written, the plan is an ambitious one. Here are just a few highlights from the document:

To calm traffic, extra-wide lanes would be narrowed, with the space reused for things like wider sidewalks or bike lanes. On-street parking could be repurposed for bike parking, sidewalk space, or parklets. New signage would sprout across the city, helping cyclists find their way (and remember to ride in the right direction) and reminding drivers of things like school zones or the right of cyclists to take a full lane. There’d be car-free Sundays on Sinatra Drive, and Observer Highway would be remade and renamed as Observer Boulevard.

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Going Car-Free? It’s On Us, Says Hoboken

Hoboken is now offering incentives for residents to give up their cars. Image: City of Hoboken.

Hoboken is now offering incentives for residents to give up their cars. Image: City of Hoboken.

When it comes to getting people to give up their cars, Hoboken is taking the direct approach. If you give up your parking permit, and with it your car, Hoboken will give you rewards worth more than $500.

Giving up your parking permit is equivalent to giving up your car in Hoboken, where there simply isn’t any spare room to park. “It’s exactly the same,” said Hoboken Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs. “You’ve got to give up your car.” That makes the “Surrender Your Permit” program an unambiguous attempt to reduce car-ownership in Hoboken.

The rewards package is a grab bag of goodies for car-free mobility (or at least, personal car-free), including a membership and driving credits for the city’s Corner Cars car-sharing program, a free pass for the Hoboken shuttle bus and bike gear like a helmet and lights. And Hoboken is putting its money where its mouth is: Most of the freebies were donated to the city, but the lost revenue from the shuttle pass comes out of the city’s budget.

Not only is “Surrender Your Permit” an example of a full-throated effort to build a more walkable, transit-oriented community, it provides New York City with a lesson in how car-sharing can be an important livable streets tool if it’s tied in with other policies aimed at reducing car-ownership.

“The Corner Cars program was critical for allowing us to move forward with this program,” explained Sacs. In Hoboken, a full 60 percent of residents own a car even though they don’t use it to commute. Those residents weren’t going to give up their cars unless they could have access to a vehicle when they wanted one.

Corner Cars, when combined with “Surrender Your Permit,” is directly targeted at getting car-owning households to give up their vehicles. New York City’s new car-sharing policy, in contrast, isn’t connected to any other policy aimed specifically at reducing car-ownership, like reduced parking minimums, and so may ultimately increase total driving.

Next up for Hoboken, according to Sacs, are further improvements to the city’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure and an expansion of the shuttle system.

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Hoboken Launches First Citywide Car-Sharing Program in U.S.

Today marks the launch of what Hoboken officials are calling the first citywide car-sharing initiative in the country, with 42 shared cars parked on the streets of the mile-square city. The "Corner Cars" program, which is intended to reduce car-ownership rates, could provide a model for expanding car-sharing across the Hudson. What happens in Hoboken will demonstrate how much car-sharing can reduce traffic in areas where people already don't drive very much.

double_parking.jpgCar-sharing could help reduce double-parking in Hoboken, where curb space is at a premium. Photo: Ian Sacs/Planetizen
Car-sharing already has a history in Hoboken, which is where ZipCar service debuted in New Jersey, according to Ian Sacs, the city's director of transportation and parking. Researchers found that 17.6 households gave up a car for each ZipCar on Hoboken's streets.

Hoboken's unique demographics and travel patterns make car-sharing a particularly powerful tool there. The city contains a high volume of cars compared to the space available to store them. Around 60 percent of residents commute by transit, bicycle, or walking, but still own cars for recreational use, said Sacs. Shared vehicles could save many of those residents significantly, while reducing incentives to drive. Hoboken is also compact enough that, even with just 21 car-sharing locations, 90 percent of the population can walk to a shared car in five minutes or less.

Car-sharing is generally believed to reduce both car ownership and the overall amount that people drive, but some worry that in areas where people drive relatively little, the effect of widespread car-sharing could be minimal. If enough car-free households start driving shared cars, it could even shift more trips to the automobile.

The Hoboken program should answer some of these unknowns about car-sharing. The terms of Hoboken's contract with the car-sharing provider, Hertz, require the company to conduct surveys of its membership to determine how their travel behavior changes. The city will also be tracking the movement of car-sharing memberships and residential parking permits to independently assess how much the program affects car ownership. Those are numbers that New York and other cities will likely be anxious to take a look at. 

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