If you’re like me, you walk a LOT. To the grocery store. To pick up my kid from school. To visit family. To the park. To a playdate. To grab a coffee. To get to work. Or maybe just to catch a breath of fresh air along the Hudson River. This should not mean taking your life in your hands, dodging distracted or speeding drivers. In particular, Willow Avenue and 15th Street are two specific areas where I have witnessed traffic issues firsthand.
To addresses these two streets, and other problem areas throughout the Second Ward, we need a fresh, new perspective. I can and will work directly and cooperatively with Mayor Bhalla to get this done. With the Mayor launching Vision Zero, I am proposing a multi-pronged approach in my new Pedestrian Safety Plan for the Second Ward, a variety of measures which will help to make our streets and our sidewalks safer for kids, seniors, and everyone in between.
Raised Intersections: These physical lifts in the road encourage drivers to slow down, and are similar to a speed bump, but do not pose the same challenges for snowplows. Raised intersections could be a successful approach at either 15th & Bloomfield Streets or 15th & Washington Streets, and at the entrance of Elysian Park at 11th Street.
Street Art: This is an affordable traffic calming measure that offers the possibility to engage local student artists. While murals and street painting require some on-going maintenance, they have proven successful at reducing speeding in residential areas. In collaboration with local schools, the intersections of 15th & Garden, and 12th & Willow are excellent candidates for traffic-calming street art.
Traffic Circles: Hoboken can truly benefit from this low-cost solution to traffic-calming. By placing a small statue or planter in the middle of notoriously dangerous intersections, motorists will be forced to physically slow down to maneuver through the intersection. This method could potentially be used along 15th Street intersections, at 13th & Park, 12th & Garden, or at 12th & Shipyard Lane.
Twenty is Plenty: The current legal speed limit on most Hoboken streets is 25 miles per hour, but even the casual observer can see that motorists routinely drive well beyond that. This is simply not practical for one of the most densely populated cities in America. Legally reducing the speed limit to 20 MPH, and reviving the ‘Twenty is Plenty’ public education campaign will save lives.
Scooters: I support a zero-tolerance policy for illegal scooting with increased enforcement. No e-scooters on sidewalks. Period. Violators must have their accounts suspended. Scooters should be parked on the street in no parking zones at corners, and not on sidewalks.
Three Strikes and You’re Out: Running a Stop sign is illegal, and drivers who blatantly ignore the law should not enjoy the same privileges as those who take safety seriously. Drivers who are caught running three Stop signs should have their Hoboken parking stickers taken away.
New cameras: While speed cameras can no longer give tickets to those speeding or running a red light due to state law, there’s nothing stopping Hoboken from installing cameras to catch violations such as running a stop sign and collecting the data. Multiple violations with our speed cameras would result in Hoboken parking privileges to be revoked. This would be ideal in locations like 15th Street.
Two New Traffic Studies for 15th Street and Willow Avenue: We desperately need traffic studies at two particularly challenging areas in the Second Ward neighborhood: 15th Street between Hudson and Park Avenue, and Willow Avenue from 11th Street north to the Weehawken Land Bridge. We must evolve the physical design of these two areas, which weren’t created to handle the heavy comingling of vehicular traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Barriers on Willow Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets: Installing barriers down the middle of Willow Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets will help ease traffic congestion and make the sidewalk near Trader Joe’s and Walgreen’s (formerly Rite Aid) safer for pedestrians.
Ride Share Drivers Education must be part of any successful safety campaign. By reaching out to ride share programs, such as Uber and Lyft, we can encourage them to better educate their drivers about pedestrian awareness in Hoboken. It is imperative that the drivers and companies who are profiting in our town are being sure to stop for pedestrians and obey the speed limit.
Protected Bike Lanes: We need more protected bike lanes throughout Hoboken on North/South streets. Physically narrow roads naturally decrease motor speeds, creating increased safety for cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.
Pedestrian Walk Signals: Every walk signal throughout the Second Ward must be reevaluated to ensure they are working effectively.
My hope is that you have found this informative. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Nora Martinez DeBenedetto
Candidate, 2nd Ward City Council