HOBOKEN, NJ — Say it in your best Jerry Seinfeld voice: Who are these people who’ve been riding around Hoboken in three-wheeled cars — and motorcycles in formation — since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic?
While some residents are amused by the open-topped Slingshot brand vehicles, others believe the flashy cars are playing their music too loud.
Residents in various Hoboken Facebook groups have noted that some nights, lines of three-wheeled or Slingshot vehicles travel around town, a rare sight before the pandemic. Motorcycles have been spotted in groups of five or more as well.
Has mile-square Hoboken become more attractive to hot-rodders now that there’s less traffic? Or are these drivers out to entertain people with a quarantine car show?
“I have received some complaints over social media regarding loud music from cars, loud motorcycle mufflers, and those open-top three wheeled cars revving their engines and playing music,” said Police Chief Ken Ferrante on Friday. “We have our officers address those quality of life issues when able. The officers are responding to 300 to 400 calls for service daily, and we address things in priority order.”
He said the priorities are “apprehension, detection and prevention of violent crimes and property crimes, medical calls, counter-terrorism operations, drunk, reckless and careless operations of vehicle enforcement, then quality of life issues.”
He noted, “We are also in a pandemic where motor vehicle stops for equipment violations are frowned upon to not create exposure and contacts to officers … for items that are not priority or dangerous actions.”
Ferrante said that he believes there are more of these vehicles around because “people don’t have indoor places to go so our waterfront has become a destination.”
He noted, “I believe the complaints we receive from Washington Street [are] because the [traffic] lights are synched to be different every two blocks. So traffic moves slower, which is safer from a pedestrian perspective and for crash mitigation, but unfortunately that also means traffic doesn’t flow as smooth and more people hear the music or mufflers longer.”
Ferrante said he wasn’t aware of any organizations that meet up in Hoboken with their vehicles.
Residents have been addressing the issue on social media, particularly complaining about loud music at night coming from the open-topped “Slingshot” cars.
“Chief I think you’re aware of an exotic car club that likes to give free concerts up and down Washington St along with them & motorcycles revving their engines all night long,” Tweeted a resident on Aug. 24. “Any help please?”
The Tweet was in response to the chief noting that the city is stepping up traffic and stop sign enforcement at certain intersections.
One motorcyclist arrested
Last month, a group of motorcycles aroused suspicion from the police.
Around 11:23 p.m. on July 8, Officer Marco Grossmann was on patrol when he observed about five motorcycles drive into a closed street. The operators allegedly drove around a barricade, blocking eastbound traffic at the intersection of Second and River streets, police said.
Grossmann attempted a motor vehicle stop. The operators ignored Officer Grossmann’s signals to stop and drove off in different directions, police said in July.
Grossmann followed the trailing motorcycle until he observed the driver head onto the sidewalk, police said. He was ordered by his lieutenant to stop pursuing the vehicle, but police caught up to it anyway.
Carlos Nerivera, 23, from Elizabeth, was arrested at 94 Washington St. and charged with eluding, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a park, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and seven motor vehicle summonses.
The motor vehicle summonses were: driving on closed roadway, reckless driving, fictitious plates, driving while suspended, possession of a controlled dangerous substance in a motor vehicle, unlicensed driver, and expired license. Nerivera was released with a court date.
Ferrante said most of those stopped for quality of life violations have been from outside Hudson County, similar to arrests related to bar issues.
In related news:
- Those who want to drive down Washington Street will have their travel limited on certain evenings due to a “Summer Streets” initiative that closes part of the streets for outdoor dining. Read more here.
- The city of Hoboken adjusted its total coronavirus fatality number to 31 on Thursday, and announced this weekend that testing will be offered at two sites on Monday and Tuesday rather than just one. Read more here.
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