Hoboken Council overrides mayor’s veto in effort to establish bicycle parking program

HOBOKEN — Legislation for a $52 bicycle parking program is in the books despite the mayor vetoing it and the city’s primary bike advocacy group opposing it as it currently stands.

The City Council overrode the mayor’s veto, 6-3, in a special meeting Wednesday afternoon. It also unanimously passed legislation that will close down a portion of Sinatra Drive to cars for the summer.

The bike program is intended to create a permitting process for those who want to store their bicycles in city garages. The ordinance itself amounts to a single sentence added to the city code: “Residents may park their bicycles in designated areas within any city garage, for an annual fee of $52.”

Mayor Ravi Bhalla vetoed it saying it lacked needed specificity, though he said he is in favor of enhanced bike parking. The city does not plan to actually implement the fee based on the current ordinance, he said.

Cyclists already chain up their bikes in city garages for free, said resident Jim Vance during public comment. If the city council wants to improve that experience, it should direct the administration to find a way to make that more secure, rather than tacking on a $52 fee, he said.

Councilman Jim Doyle was the one vote that swung between the initial passage (a 7-2 vote) of the ordinance and the veto override.

He said he voted in favor initially because he was under the impression that Bike Hoboken, an advocacy group, supported it. After the group wrote to the council saying it agreed with the mayor about details that were lacking, Doyle voted against the override.

Councilman Phil Cohen said he was disappointed the council was pushing for something that Bike Hoboken said it doesn’t want.

“It’s unfortunate that we scheduled a special meeting to force through a vote on an override related to bicycle parking when the main bicycle advocacy organization in Hoboken is not in favor of this ordinance,” he said.

The Sinatra Drive ordinance will create a pedestrian plaza between Newark and Fourth streets until Labor Day. Then, it will remain a pedestrian plaza on weekends until Oct. 11.

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