HOBOKEN — One-third of the area of this booming Hudson County city is public land, but because it is not a major metropolis like New York or Philadelphia, officials do not always have the resources to redesign its streets and sidewalks to put pedestrians first.

So in the last several years, the task of finding constructive ways to protect those walking down and across Hoboken's streets has fallen to Ryan Sharp, the city's director of transportation and parking.

What Sharp's department has been coming up with seems to be working: Under a "Vision Zero" initiative similar to NYC's concept, no pedestrian fatalities have been recorded in Hoboken in the last four years.

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Severe traffic injuries have also declined in that time, but Sharp said there is still a lot of work to do to reach the program's goal of eliminating serious incidents altogether by the year 2030.

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In Hoboken, as Sharp puts it, everyone has to be a pedestrian at some point, and so there has been widespread public support for engineering and other policies over a number of years.

But also, "seconds matter" when taking into account reaction times for both walkers and drivers, so Sharp said efforts continue to lower the citywide speed limit — because no matter what public policy accomplishes, people make mistakes and crashes are inevitable.

"When you begin to focus on designing streets for people and for pedestrians first, then safety often improves for all modes of transportation as a byproduct of that," he said. "We want to make sure that if a crash does happen, it happens at a slower speed, it happens less frequently, and there's less severity."

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A 2009 New Jersey law prohibiting vehicles from parking within 25 feet of a crosswalk is seemingly oft-neglected, but not in Hoboken, where dangerous intersections are a primary focus for Sharp's department.

And because of the dearth of resources, assigning police or public safety officers to monitor potential offenders isn't a workable solution, so the city has worked to "automate" these crossings and improve their sight lines.

"Basically what you're doing is, you're putting something in that 25-foot clear zone, or no parking zone, that physically keeps vehicles from parking in that space," Sharp said.

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That being said, strategies that worked in 2019, when Vision Zero was implemented, or now in 2022, may not prove to be the most effective by the time 2030 rolls around.

But the actions Hoboken has taken so far are proving "broadly popular" in numerous New Jersey communities, according to Sharp, and officials continue to keep an open mind with regard to what they can learn from other municipalities too.

"We always have to keep innovating, adjusting, and that's an innovative process that we share at a professional level with communities all across the country," Sharp said.

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Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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