While it seems extremely unlikely that a referendum question will appear on the November 5th ballot in Hoboken, the mayor and city council appear to still be making E-scooter safety a high priority.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The topic has escalating some already existing friction between Mayor Ravi Bhalla and some members of the city council, particularly since the former was pushing for the ballot question.
After two unsuccessful votes, it appears that all parties are moving away from the non-binding referendum question, though the council approved a resolution by a unanimous vote (9-0) at last night’s special meeting calling on Mayor to revise the six-month E-scooter pilot program.
â€œWhile e-Scooters have proven to be an attractive transportation alternative for many, it is clear that bringing them to our community has created serious public safety concerns and is straining city enforcement resources,” Council members Mike DeFusco and Tiffanie Fisher said in a joint statement.
“As Council members, we share a commitment to improving transportation in Hoboken and believe that a well-managed, responsible eScooter program has the potential to significantly reduce traffic and vehicle emissions by providing a viable alternative to driving. For the program to be successful in Hoboken, however, it must first and foremost be safe for our residents and those visiting our city.”
They continued that the current agreements are “inadequate” since they do not prioritize safety or “provide additional revenue for the city to be used for enforcement and rider education.”
City spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri responded that the administration has been working on these measures for weeks, therefore the resolution provides little, if any, help in the matter.
“Mayor Bhalla and his administration have for the past several weeks been negotiating an amended agreement with the E-scooter companies for the remainder of the pilot that will help increase enforcement and safety, as well provide additional financial resources to the city,” he told HCV.
“We appreciate the council members’ interest in the matter, but the administration is already working on it.”
According to the resolution, the council approved a six-month E-scooter pilot program with Lime on April 3rd by a vote of 8-1, before approving a second agreement with Ojo, a separate provider, by a vote of 5-4.
The program began on May 20th and has caused dismay among some residents who have complained regularly on social media that safety regulations are routinely violated, leading to an arrest in at least one instance.