Bicycle Parking in Hoboken: What’s Going On?

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After an ordinance sponsored by Councilman Mike DeFusco and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher to allow Hoboken residents to store their bicycles in Municipal Garages for $1 a week was vetoed by Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla last week, in a special session yesterday, the Hoboken Council voted 6-3 to override the Mayor’s veto.

 The Co-Sponsors’ Reaction to the Override

“As more Hoboken residents begin to rely on bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, it’s important for us to invest in infrastructure that reflects this shift,” said Councilman DeFusco in a press release to Hoboken Girl. “It is only sensible that we begin creating affordable bike storage for cyclists, especially in an urban setting where far too often residents are limited on space. The mayor’s initial veto was nothing more than a ploy to discredit those of us on the City Council who do not always agree with him politically. Politics and good local government should never mesh and unfortunately we have an administration that continues to put politics over policy in effort to divide us. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the Department of Transportation and Parking, my Council colleagues and the administration to make this plan a reality.”

“I am proud to co-sponsor this piece of legislation to provide a valuable amenity to Hoboken’s bike enthusiasts who are tired of locking their bike outside, carrying it up a flight (or more) of stairs or storing it in their living room,” said Councilwoman Fisher, Chair of the Parking and Transportation Subcommittee. “This is just a small step, but one of many the Council Parking and Transportation Subcommittee and the administration are considering together to support and expand bike use in Hoboken.”

Read More: A Guide to Bicycling in Hoboken + Jersey City

The Bicycle Parking Ordinance Under Contention

The recent contention stems from the legislation first introduced by Councilman DeFusco in June, which creates a permit process with a $52 annual fee and a requirement for all bicycles to display a City of Hoboken placard, similar to regulations for street parking.

At the time, Councilman DeFusco explained, “As more residents rely on bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, it’s important for us to properly activate space within our city that reflects this shift. Sharing the street requires drivers and cyclists alike to work together and abide by the rules.”

Ordinance B-278 was approved by the Hoboken Council on second reading on at the July 8th meeting with a 7-2 vote in favor of the plan [Councilman Phil Cohen and Councilwoman Emily Jabbour were opposed]. But Mayor Bhalla vetoed the legislation last week, a decision he explained via a full statement to the press this week.

“While I am completely supportive of legislation that would potentially add safe bicycle parking for residents, the Ordinance is severely lacking in the detail and substance that would be necessary to successfully implement such a program,” the statement reads. “The Ordinance contains no information on how bicycles would be parked/maintained in “designated areas” within the municipal garage, what the application process would consist of, how many spots would be available, what enforcement mechanisms would be implemented to ensure that a permit had been obtained and was maintained on a yearly basis, or who would be responsible for running this program both from an oversight perspective and on a day-to-day basis within the garages.”

This was all before Wednesday evening, when the Council voted to override the veto, and bicycle parking in municipal garages became one step closer to reality. Councilwoman Jaboour and Councilman Cohen were joined by Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle in opposition.

Both Sides of the Issue

Contentions, which were already high last week with the responses publicly shared on Twitter, had gone official earlier this week, with Councilman DeFusco releasing a statement that took serious issue with the mayor’s initial veto. “I’ve long said that local government can only serve the best interests of its residents when we bring new and innovative ideas to the table to better our city,” the statement reads. “The mayor’s refusal to advance legislation, despite earning overwhelming support of the Council, is nothing short of his inability to put politics aside to create new opportunities for Hoboken residents. Instead of continuing his record of vetoing legislation sponsored by those who do not agree with him politically, might I suggest the mayor better utilize his time by addressing the nearly 10% municipal tax hike he’s proposed in the middle of a recession.”

City Spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri sent the following statement to Hoboken Girl via email this week, responding to the criticism, “Mayor Bhalla is 100% supportive of bike-friendly legislation that includes well-thought-out, specific guidelines that take into account input from the Director of Transportation, administration, cycling advocates, and City Councilmembers,” the statement reads.  “While this one-sentence ordinance failed to include any actual detailslacked support from key stakeholders, and did not provide any necessary safety precautions, he invites all stakeholders to work in collaboration on policies that would benefit cyclists in town that are safe, feasible and does not put an unnecessary burden on the City to implement, especially given that much of the City’s time and resources are currently devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic response.” The links embedded in the statement were provided by Chaudhuri and connect to the debate on Twitter.

Under Mayor Bhalla, Hoboken has prioritized a number of initiatives to encourage alternative transportation and increase pedestrian safety, Chaudhuri’s statement concluded, citing Vision Zero, “open streets,” bike-sharing, and curb extensions, among others.

See More: City Council Moves to Convert Sinatra Drive to Pedestrian Plaza Starting August 1st

Before the Over Ride: Other Stakeholders Weigh In, Urge Collaboration

Even those opposed to the initial ordinance earlier this week agreed that such an ordinance was needed, but urged the Council to continue to collaborate, research, and discuss the issue to come up with a more comprehensive plan.

Councilman Phil Cohen called the plan as proposed “half-baked” and urged his colleagues to “go back to the drawing board” and collaborate with allies to create a more holistic plan. “I would have gladly voted for this ordinance if it included a plan for secure bicycle parking in our City garages — and given a moment’s thought as to how such a system would be funded,” Councilman Cohen’s statement reads.

“Instead, we got an unfunded mandate from my Council colleagues that did not poll or consider the wonderful Bike Hoboken community — whose representative asked that we table the Ordinance on first reading so such consideration could be given — or meaningfully consult with {Transportation and Parking} Director {Ryan} Sharp and Mayor Bhalla’s bike-friendly administration.”

“The ordinance sets the annual bicycle storage price at $52/year — a large percentage of what it costs a bike owner to own and operate a bike — arriving on this price without conducting any market research, community meetings, or feasibility analysis to assess the community demand or a reasonable price point. ”

President of local organization Bike Hoboken, Chris Adair, also issued a letter to the Hoboken Council prior to Wednesday’s meeting in support of the veto, “While we appreciate Mr. DeFusco and Ms. Fisher making the topic of bicycling parking a priority, we believe this ordinance lacks needed specificity. Sustaining the veto will allow the city council to work with the Department of Transportation and Bike Hoboken to create a comprehensive plan to identify locations and build out secure bicycle parking. Let’s fully embrace this together and sink our teeth into it!”
All other council members did not return Hoboken Girls request for comment by the time of publication.

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Born and raised on the Jersey Shore, Alena visited Hoboken {her parents’ hometown} regularly as a little girl and has always had a soft spot for the Mile Square. With family roots in the town’s fire department, she has been a proud resident of our fair city since attending graduate school at The New School in NYC. Alena began her career as a beat reporter at a small newspaper, before finding her groove as a development professional in the non-profit field. She has a passion for helping others, a penchant for writing, and is excited to get back to her journalism roots. When she’s not raising funds or following up on a scoop, Alena is practicing yoga, listening avidly to true crime podcasts, reading a great book, gallivanting with friends, and missing Schitt’s Creek.