Testimony of Janna Chernetz, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Hoboken City Council Meeting
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Good evening. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am Janna Chernetz, the New Jersey Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit policy organization working for a more equitable and environmentally sound transportation network in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
It is my pleasure to speak tonight in support of the proposed amendment to city ordinance, Chapter 190 Section 32, which will designate several streets in Hoboken with Class II bike lanes. (That includes portions of Hudson St, Garden St, Park Ave, Willow Ave, Clinton St, Adams St, Jefferson St, Monroe St, Jackson St, Harrison St, Newark St, 2nd St, and 11th St.)
Hoboken was recently named by Forbes as America’s Top Transportation City. In 2010, Hoboken received honorable mention as a bike friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists; an honor received by only one other city in NJ. Tri-State applauds Hoboken for its success in creating a community where residents have the option of living car-free. Passing this ordinance amendment today is keeping in line with this vision of Hoboken.
Bike lanes provide numerous safety, health, environmental, and traffic benefits. Bike lanes, such as the ones proposed tonight, are a low cost way to implement traffic calming tools. On wide streets, they help slow down vehicular traffic making it safer for people of all ages and abilities to cross. Bike lanes improve traffic flow and reduce the chance that motorists will stray into cyclists’ path of travel. They also remind motorists to look for cyclists when turning or opening car doors. Additionally, they provide safe space for bicyclists on streets while also encouraging bicyclists to ride in the correct direction of traffic (as seen in Eugene and Corvallis, OR) and on the street as opposed to sidewalks. In Hoboken, cyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks as long as they follow specific rules. With the implementation of bike lanes here in Hoboken, sidewalks can be freed for use by pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
There is an environmental benefit as well. When safe cycling becomes a viable option, many can choose to reduce car usage or even chose to live car-free. This reduces dangerous CO2 emissions from cars. This is a significant environmental advantage as transportation is the largest contributor of CO2 emissions in NJ. Even with expected improvements in vehicle and fuel economy, carbon emissions from transportation nationwide would be 41 percent above today’s levels by 2030 if driving is not curbed.
Bicycle infrastructure also has economic benefits. Bike lanes, along with appropriate and ample bike parking, increase pedestrian traffic at local businesses. Thirty-seven percent of the businesses in the Mission District of San Francisco reported an increase in business due to the addition of bike lane. Robust bicycle-friendly policies help maintain urban density and reduce auto-dependency so residents save on transportation costs and have more money to spend at local businesses.
There are a myriad of health benefits that come with smarter infrastructure planning. Cycling is ranked among the top three exercises for improving cardiovascular fitness. Bike lanes make cycling a viable exercise option especially in dense urban cities. Cycling to work, school or shopping as part of a person’s daily routine can be both a sustainable and time-efficient exercise regimen for maintaining acceptable levels of fitness. Improving cardiovascular health can also result in lower healthcare costs.
Well-designed roads, those designed for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, encourage proper behavior and decrease the likelihood of crashes. A recent review of bicyclist safety studies found that the addition of well-designed bicycle-specific infrastructure tends to reduce injury and crash risk. On-road bicycle lanes reduced these rates by about 50%. These benefits have been felt in NYC. NYC has seen a decrease in all crashes by 40-50% with the implementation of bike lanes; especially after in the installation of bike lanes on Ninth Avenue, Grand Street, and Prospect Park West, to name a few. When the city of Corvallis, OR installed 13 miles of bicycle lanes in one year, the number of bicycle crashes fell from 40 in the year prior to the installation to just 16 in the year afterwards, and of the 5 crashes that occurred on streets with bike lanes, all involved bicyclists riding at night with no lights. Hoboken is already feeling similar benefits of smarter pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure planning. In 2010, crashes dropped by 30 percent and bicycle accidents by 63 percent. These statistics are proof positive that bike lanes work.
In closing, bicycling delivers benefits beyond the bicycling community. They make Hoboken safer and more livable for other pedestrians and residents and generate increased activity for Hoboken businesses. We live in a new era where cars are no longer the favored mode of transportation. Hoboken needs to continue to grow to reflect this change and balance the limited road space to accommodate this shift. Over the past few years, Hoboken has begun this transformation but without continued enlightened leadership, progress will backslide.
Tri-State Transportation Campaign urges the passage of the amendment to Chapter 190 Section 32 to increase bike lanes in Hoboken.