Traffic Fatalities Are Up Almost Everywhere, But Hoboken Hasn't Had One In Nearly 7 Years

Hoboken seems to have somehow cracked the code to preventing traffic deaths

PublishedNovember 27, 2023
Photo: Tashka (Getty Images)

Once a bustling industrial port town directly across from midtown Manhattan, Hoboken is now a trendy walkable/bikeable destination town with posh waterfront highrises and twee coffee shops. Despite lots of foot traffic, and considerable four-wheeled traffic, the city hasn’t seen a single traffic death since January 2017, and according to Bloomberg, traffic injuries are down about 40 percent in that same period. Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s ‘Vision Zero’ executive order, a campaign to completely eliminate traffic deaths, has proven its worth in keeping Hobokenites alive.

The plan boils down to a few simple changes in the tiny city on the Hudson; lower speed limits, protected bike lanes, improved crosswalks, and curb extensions. That’s it. Some signs, a bit of paint, and some concrete curbing has completely slashed road deaths in the city to zero. The city’s goal isn’t ending there, however, as Vision Zero hopes to achieve zero traffic injuries by 2030. It’s definitely an ambitious, but worthy, goal.

"Just with a bucket of paint, you can actually create a curb extension; you can create high visibility crosswalks, which create a much safer environment at a very cheap cost," Bhalla said. "And then when you do the next iteration of repaving, you can really amplify and increase on those improvements that you’ve made."

The first step for Bhalla was to reduce the number of cars on Hoboken’s streets. By installing bike lanes and inviting bike-sharing company Citi Bike to his little corner of New Jersey, this was accomplished fairly quickly. Since Citi Bike entered Hoboken in 2021, nearly a million trips have been taken on peddled pedal power. Along with the bike lane plan was an opportunity to repave and re-paint all of the city’s crosswalks for better pedestrian visibility. Forty curb extensions have been installed, which nudge cars farther from street corners when making turns, and prevents pedestrians from being hidden by thick A-pillars.

The biggest change, however, has been the city’s commitment to speed reduction. In 2022 Hoboken lowered its city speed limit from 30 miles per hour to just 20. Pedestrians have an 80 percent survival rate when hit by a car travelling 30 miles per hour, but the survivability of an impact balloons to more than 93 percent when the car is moving at 20 miles per hour. Death and injury rates rise exponentially with speed, and New Jersey has proven that reducing speed reduces death and injury.

This kind of city planning has an opportunity to catch on. Reducing pedestrian-to-car impacts is the first step. Reducing the speed of those impacts is the next step. And improving our signage, road paint, and concrete curbing to make pedestrians and cyclists safer is as important as anything else. Hoboken has proven it doesn’t take much, but it does take action. So many cities could learn from Hoboken’s impressive Vision Zero plan, and implement their own.

The passenger was advised to sit on the toilet lid during the landing and not to panic

Published5 hours ago
Image: @ShivAroor (X), Rafiq Maqbool (AP)

A passenger on a commercial flight got stuck in the lavatory of a Boeing 737. SpiceJet, a low-cost Indian carrier, was operating an hour and 45-minute trip from Mumbai to Bengaluru earlier this week when the unidentified male passenger got up from his seat after takeoff to use the bathroom, the Indian Express reports. After all the efforts to free the man from his unfortunate predicament were exhausted, a flight attendant slipped an apology note under the door.

The note scribbled out on a napkin also warned the trapped passenger that the plane was preparing to land. The message read:

"Sir we tried our best to open the door, however, we could not. Do not panic. We are landing in a few minutes, so please close the commode lid and sit on it and secure yourself. As soon as the main door is open, an engineer will come. Do not panic."

Getting a note after the cabin crew and several passengers had attempted to pry the door open and failed isn’t really the most reassuring gesture, like they’re leaving me to my fate. However, the directions were sensible. You absolutely don’t want anything in the toilet bowl splashing out when the airliner touches down on the runway. Securing yourself is a hard ask depending on how tall you are. Ideally, you would want to stay seated on top of the lid while bracing yourself with your legs against the jammed door.

The passenger was eventually rescued when engineers broke down the door after the aircraft landed in Bengaluru around 3:42 a.m. local time. The airline released a statement which reads, "SpiceJet regrets and apologizes for the inconvenience caused to the passenger. The passenger is being provided a full refund."

Mentioning "Do not panic" might provide the perfect transition to reference "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," but it’s a legitimately good mindset to encourage. There was no chance of an immediate escape, and no chance of assistance should panicking create a medical emergency. Yes, it was a bad situation, but you should do everything you can to prevent it becoming worse.

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