Bike Hoboken 2019 Hoboken City Council election questionnaire: Second Ward

Bike Hoboken
Oct 23 · 11 min read

Thanks to Second Ward city council candidates Nora Martinez DeBenedetto and Tiffanie Fisher for responding to our questionnaire. Please take the time to read through the responses and go out and vote on November 5th to elect a city council that will work towards creating a more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Hoboken!

Note: We asked each of the candidates to keep their responses to a yes/no if possible or keep it as concise as possible. We did not edit any of the responses despite some candidates providing lengthier answers — please do not interpret a lengthier response as being a more comprehensive one since we requested brevity. Thank you!

Bike Lanes

Would you support a Protected Bike Lane on Grand St?

DeBenedetto: Yes

Fisher: I am supportive of north/south protected bike lanes west of Washington St. But I think it is critical to include the communities that are most impacted in the decision. Often times their visceral response will be no, but having a dialogue and responding to their concerns may help get them more comfortable.

Would you support a Protected Bike Lane on Clinton St?

DeBenedetto: Yes

Fisher: Same comment as above. However, I have concerns about Clinton St. given it is both a bus route and a public safety route. I would want confirmation from those stakeholders that they can operate in a narrower lane.

Would you support finding an east-west street where a Protected Bike Lane could be installed, even if it means that some on-street parking must be removed to accommodate?

DeBenedetto: As with any proposal, I would need to see the details before committing, but Hoboken needs east-west bike lanes in order to fully connect our biking infrastructure. In Uptown Hoboken, I would specifically look at 11th Street and 15th Street as possibilities.

Fisher: I am supportive of an east-west street but I am not supportive of removing a lane of parking at this time.

Would you support revisiting Washington Street to install the original Protected Bike Lanes?

DeBenedetto: Yes

Fisher: Not any time soon given the significant investment made and the fact that our businesses and community are only just recovering from what was an over budget and longer than expected disruption. I would prefer to focus creating connectivity between Observer Highway bike lane and our existing network, and expand from there.

Do you support the Observer Highway Protected Bike Lane and would you fight to make sure it’s not removed?

DeBenedetto: Yes, but we need to find a way to connect it to other bike lanes stat. People would be less mad about it if more bikers used it.

Fisher: I like the Observer Highway Protected Bike Lane. I think it is the one location in our community where bikes can actually ride directly without the many stops that are required in most areas of the city. And I would like to see this be the anchor to the expansion of our existing network of bike lanes (all).

Would you support working with Jersey City and the county to create a safe protected connection from Observer Highway bike path into Jersey City Protected Lanes?

DeBenedetto: YES! I love this idea!

Fisher: Yes

If you were on the transportation sub-committee what would be your top 3 items to bring to the city council for a vote?

DeBenedetto: 1) I have made no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of the Hop. I would love to see weekend service, increased weekday service, and an electric fleet to get the job done. 2) We are in desperate need of more protected bike lanes in Hoboken. I would like to see a fully connected network, similar to Jersey City. 3) It’s time for us to explore a pilot program of closing one street in Hoboken to anything but buses and local traffic. It has been a raving success on 14th Street in NYC, where bus travel times have decreased by 30%. Obviously, this kind of bold undertaking would mean partnering with local businesses that might be impacted.

Fisher: 1) Any and all Vision Zero recommendations. 2) Better connections, even if just a pilot and temporary, at the east and west end of the Observer Bike lane. 3) All way stops at more intersections across Hoboken. HPD have indicated they have concerns about this that I of course would want to understand better but I do think we just need to be mostly an all stop city. I haven’t included things that would not require a vote like adding vertical delineators to each side of Bloomfield, just south of the intersection with Garden to help narrow the entrance into that dangerous intersection.

Would you support and vote for a Protected Bike Lane along the waterfront particularly between 4th and 11th where none currently exist?

DeBenedetto: Yes

Fisher: Yes

Would you support closing Sinatra to car traffic and making it a dedicated pedestrian & bicycle route?

DeBenedetto: I would consider phasing in that proposal by making Sinatra Drive one-way initially, and examining the impact on traffic flow. That would offer much more road space to bikes and pedestrians, but still allow for the elderly and disabled to access Sinatra Park, Sybil’s Cave and the fishing pier. Alternately, I would support closing it to cars every weekend.

Fisher: Some day. But I would first want to understand the bike usage in our community. I don’t think it is needed for a pedestrian walkway — we have a great waterfront walkway that many communities do not have. Sinatra provides a main transportation route and we would need to think about what the impacts would be to other areas of Hoboken if this is closed to traffic.

Would you support narrowing Sinatra (like it currently is now while undergoing Stevens construction) in order to slow cars and create a dedicated Protected Bike Lane?

DeBenedetto: Yes

Fisher: Yes

Bike Parking

Are you willing to work to create more space for bicycle parking at the PATH terminal?

DeBenedetto: Absolutely! We should be demanding a better bike storage system as a part of the Hudson Yards redevelopment deal.

Fisher: Yes

Would you support making Hudson Place a pedestrian-only area, moving the cab line elsewhere, and adding more bicycle parking in that area?

DeBenedetto: Yes, but I think our current bike storage solution at the PATH is lacking. Some cities use underground storage for bikes, which I think is probably not realistic for Hoboken (floods much?). But the bottom line is that we need a more innovative solution to maximize the space — perhaps multi-tiered bike racks like they have at toy stores!

Fisher: I am definitely supportive of more bike parking. I think we would need to really review whether moving taxis, an important resource for Hoboken residents and visitors, away from one of the state’s biggest transportation hubs makes sense.

Do you support creating corner parking for bicycles and scooters on every corner in the city?

DeBenedetto: I support placing bike racks at any corner that currently has bollards and marked no-parking zones. Maximizing use of all precious space is an overarching theme of urban life in general. The reality is that there needs to be an occasional place for people to pull over in their car and unload groceries, etc. When my father was receiving chemotherapy, it was very difficult for my mom to get him out of the car and into the house because he could only walk a few steps. I’m confident that there is a solution to sharing the road for all Hoboken residents.

Fisher: I think we need a citywide approach to ensure our goals for parking are met, and then look at each corner separately as they are not all the same. But I am generally supportive of having more corner parking.

Car Storage/Parking

Do you support increasing the cost of yearly parking permits for residents?

DeBenedetto: Yes, I do, but for new residents only. I believe that current residents should be able to keep their permit at the current $15. All new residents should pay $200 for a yearly parking permit.

Fisher: Yes

How much do you think a yearly parking permit should cost?

DeBenedetto: $200 for new residents, with current residents being grandfathered in at the current rate.

Fisher: I think we need more input on this but I think the pricing should reflect how many cars, income level, and size of car.

Do you support dynamic parking pricing for Washington Street car parking?

DeBenedetto: Yes, but the city must aid in finding a solution for the people who work on Washington Street to park in the municipal garages.

Fisher: Yes

Are you willing to trade out on-street car storage (parking) to create loading zones?

DeBenedetto: Yes, but the loading zone should also be available to customers who wish to pop in and out of shops. The city should partner with businesses to monitor these spots. Also, Hoboken should consider not allowing any large-scale deliveries before 9 am or after 4 pm. Bus stops are not for tractor trailers.

Fisher: Yes overall, but we need to look at the specifics of each block.

Do you support eliminating or reducing parking minimums for new buildings?

DeBenedetto: That depends entirely on where the building is located. Many areas in Uptown Hoboken are over half a mile away from the nearest light rail stop. The North End redevelopment area presents a unique opportunity to build a public transit-oriented/alternate mobility hub far from the PATH station. I support reduced parking minimums in this area, but I will also fight to make sure that the proposed uptown municipal garage be built adjacent to the Northwest Resiliency Park.

Fisher: Yes. But I also believe we need a municipal garage in the north end of Hoboken not only to support businesses but also to act as a perimeter parking alternative to get cars off the streets.

Pedestrian Safety

Do you support curb bump outs?

DeBenedetto: Yes. As a pedestrian, they have made a huge difference for me and my family when we cross the street.

Fisher: Generally, yes. But they are not a one size fits all and we need to look at each intersection differently. I am not at all supportive of the economical version that has a break between the bump out and the sidewalk. These are too dangerous for pedestrians.

Would you support a raised crosswalk in an area like 15th and Garden? Any other areas?

DeBenedetto: Absolutely, in fact I suggested raised intersections on 15th Street as a part of my Pedestrian Safety Plan. What I like about this suggestion in particular is that it forces drivers to physically drive up on to what is essentially a sidewalk, thereby physically and mentally reinforcing the notion of safety and low speed. I also believe we should add mini traffic circles, and street art to enhance traffic calming. We should also legally reduce the city-wide speed limit to 20 MPH. I will work to create proactive solutions to pedestrian safety, instead of reactive, hindsight, band-aid measures.

Fisher: 15th and Garden will be a raised intersection as part of Rebuild By Design — that intersection is where the resist barrier will slide through the intersection so it is required. I definitely support the idea of anything raised on the streets — crosswalks, intersections and speed humps.

Number these action items in the order you prioritize doing them, with 1 being the first thing. NA for any you would not want to do.

Nora Martinez DeBenedetto

Action items in order of priority:

  1. Installing raised crosswalks in high pedestrian areas
  2. Installing Protected Bike Lanes
  3. Creating more bicycle parking

Does not support:

  • Decreasing the price of car parking

No priority given:

  • Creating pedestrian only areas
  • Creating more car parking
  • Increasing the price of car parking
  • Narrowing streets

Tiffanie Fisher

Action items in order of priority:

  1. Installing raised crosswalks in high pedestrian areas
  2. Increasing the price of car parking
  3. Creating more bicycle parking
  4. Installing Protected Bike Lanes
  5. Creating more car parking [*perimeter parking garage] [highlighted text added by Fisher]
  6. Creating pedestrian only areas
  7. Narrowing streets

Does not support:

  • Decreasing the price of car parking

Personal Statement

Nora Martinez DeBenedetto

I believe that the next census will reveal that we have nearly 60,000 people living in Hoboken — we are more densely populated than New York City. The only way for us to live harmoniously is to attempt to tackle the issue of transportation. In order to do that, we must find ways of alternate mobility that are safe — and easy! — for kids, adults, and senior citizens. This means installing protected bike lanes, expanding city-sponsored public transportation, and maybe even a public campaign educating our kids about the best way to cross a street, “Phones Down, Eyes Up!”

While I believe that the majority of Hoboken residents are aware of and comply with our pedestrian culture, there are many visitors here who are not aware of our circumstances. As your councilperson, I will reach out to Uber and Lyft and ask that every time one of their cars enter Hoboken, it must flash a notice across the driver’s phone that notes, “Stop for Pedestrians in Hoboken.” Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

While we own a car, I don’t drive myself. My three-year-old son and I walk (or he scoots), and take public trans all over town. Pedestrian safety is personal for me and I will work hard to make sure that Hoboken roads are safe for all who use them, and to reduce our dependency on cars.

Please visit my website at www.noraforhoboken.com for additional information on where I stand on the issues.

Tiffanie Fisher

I am a bike rider who feels fairly comfortable riding in the streets of Hoboken. But I have a side view mirror (critical for city riding), I always stop at stop signs and lights and generally feel comfortable on my bike. That said, like many others who ride, I have had my own close calls riding close to our network of parallel parked cars. I love riding on the protected bike lanes along Observer Highway and Sinatra Drive North where you definitely feel more safe from cars.

I am a fan of extending our network of bike lanes, but to me, I would like to also see more emphasis on responsible riding, making the bike lanes that we have work better first and come up with a citywide plan for a bike network. For example, as mentioned I love the Observer Highway bike lane but find it incredibly dangerous getting to or from it at either end. And it is completely underutilized. The protected bike lanes along lower Sinatra Drive I believe are a joke and are effectively a pedestrian walkway due to lack of maintenance and oversight. These are both easy fixes even if temporary and we should prioritize these right away.

I definitely support alternative forms of transportation and if we believe bike infrastructure is critical to this then we need to think about our network improvements holistically instead of the patchwork approach we have historically taken.

All this said, and I am sure this will not be popular, we need to also consider all the needs of a community in any decision to make changes to streets. Unlike New York City and many other areas where there are more developed bike lanes, our city is a residentially occupied one with a large percentage of seniors and young children who are pedestrians every day. And we need to not ignore their, and all of our, safety and everyday quality of life concerns as well. Some bike changes I think our community is ready for. And some we need to grow into over time as more and more people ride bikes.

Bike Hoboken

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Bike Hoboken strives to make Hoboken a haven for pedestrians and bicyclists alike while making bicycling safe, fun and accessible.

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