By Erin Delmore
When it comes to bike rack parking at North Jersey’s crowded transit hubs, the early bird gets the worm. But the squeaky wheel still gets the grease.
“Unfortunately, some of the public racks which have been designed for the residents of Jersey City and their personal bikes have been used by a private company that we don’t have an agreement with,” said Jersey City Councilwoman Candice Osborne.
That company? Hoboken’s Hudson Bike Share. Jersey City partnered with another company: Citi Bike. And while Citi Bikes have designated racks — where you have to pick them up and drop them off — Hudson Bikes have no docking stations. Anywhere goes.
We asked Councilwoman Osborne if she believes that Hudson Bike Share is purposefully is bringing bikes over to Jersey City, parking them in no-fee zones intended for public use, thereby boxing out bike owners and getting a leg up on the competition.
“You know, they have officially said no, but I can tell you that we’ve seen at the Exchange Place PATH station early in the morning an entire rack of 10 bikes right in a row, and that to me, it doesn’t look right, right? So if you look at the natural flow of how people park bikes, I find it hard to believe that at 7 o’clock in the morning at Exchange Place that 10 to 12 bike riders have all driven over from Hoboken and parked right in a row. So I find that a little bit suspicious, but regardless, it’s still utilization. Even if that’s not occurring, it’s advertised as a no-fee zone, which is essentially advertising use of public property and that’s OK if we have an agreement, but we really need to make sure we do it the right way,” Osborne said.
Osborne told NJTV News that Jersey City would be willing to renegotiate its contracts with Citi Bike. She said she’s working with Mayor Steve Fulop to expand the use of both cities’ bike share programs in the area. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s office told us in a statement, “Mayor Zimmer has been in direct discussions and communication with Mayor Fulop regarding bike share stations in Hoboken and Jersey City for months. Mayor Zimmer hopes that those mayor to mayor discussions will continue so that a resolution that makes sense for both cities can be achieved.”
In the meantime, Jersey City is looking to pass legislation on the public rack use — capping parking rights to a two-hour max.
“The Citi Bike gives you a 40 minute time span before you have to pay additional fees, so I think that would be acceptable, at that range,” said Citi Bike user Gregory Ralph.
“So many people do use it for their commuting purposes, I think putting a time limit on it would be tough; you want people to be able to go there in the morning, get their bike at night or to really use it the way that they would use any other modes of transportation. So I think that’s something we have to explore further,” said Bike JC board member Katie Brennan.
The measure will go up for a public hearing at the next City Council meeting on Wednesday, April 6 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.