Roosevelt Island’s Bike Chaos

Seasons change, but the dangers don’t…

Roosevelt Island bike chaos thumbed its nose at PSD‘s announced crackdown on traffic safety violations. High risk, reckless riding continues unchanged, but it now happens right in front of active duty officers.

Roosevelt Island bike chaos is commonplace. Here, a delivery bike rides straight down the sidewalk. Hint: Sidewalks are for pedestrians
Delivery bike cruises straight down the Westview sidewalk. A tip for PSD: Two-wheeled vehicles belong on the street where they’re less likely to hurt someone.

Is anyone paying attention? What happened to PSDs bicycle safety crackdown?

Examples: Why Roosevelt Island bike chaos matters…

Coincidences inform.

On my way home after investigating a resident’s emotional complaint about RIOC drivers jeopardizing his family’s safety, I ran into two couples, old and new friends, and heard their stories.

The first story, really, I witnessed after the main event.

Friends of over twenty years were being helped by EMS and NYPD personnel. The were just inside the park circled by River Road. She was standing, but he was on the ground, unable to get up.

My friend fell, maybe tripped up by loose gravel and hit his head on a bench. His eye socket was bruised.

“He’s embarrassed,” she explained.

“Who wouldn’t be?”

“Do what the officer says,” I joked, and he smiled meekly, too weak to do otherwise.

A couple hundred feet away, I ran into another couple out for a stroll on a perfect Saturday afternoon.

Reminded by the accident across the park, she tells me she recently fell, tripped by a broken sidewalk near the Youth Center. She chipped a tooth.

Both accidents occurred from simple fate. Bad luck lead to injuries.

Now, mix in reckless, uncontrolled bicycle riders. How much has PSD’s failure to act added to the normal hazards?

Bike violations unchecked…

PSD officer watches bike riders run two straight stop signs.
A Public Safety Dept. crossing guard silently watches, but bike riders go through two stop signs without even slowing down.

Friday afternoon, during rush, I watched a PSD officer barely bat an eye at a pair of bike riders who ran two straight stop signs .

I took two lessons from this:

  • The Public Safety Department’s bike safety crackdown is, for all meaningful intents, useless.
  • Bike riders are fully aware that PSD isn’t going to do anything to control them.

When enforcement authorities are watching, most violators will at least fake it, but not on Roosevelt Island.

Earlier, I recorded an eBike cruising straight through a crosswalk. A PSD officer idled nearby, watching, doing nothing. Seasons have changed, but this stuff has not.

If you’re on two wheels, you get a free pass. Pedestrians, cars and bike riders’ own safety be damned.

Informal talk with acting chief Kevin Brown…

An hour after I took the picture above, I found PSD acting chief Kevin Brown at work on Main Street. He monitored one of his charges assigned to making cyclists observe stop signs on Main Street near Bread & Butter Market.

“She stopped him,” he pointed out as an eBike rider slowed down at a crosswalk.

It’s what a frustrated, recently ticketed friend of mine once argued was “a rolling stop.”

That’s an oxymoron, and it’s illegal as well as illiterate. A stop is a stop, except on Roosevelt Island.

And that’s the best they could get with a uniformed officer staring straight at them…?

Some bike safety crackdown that is.

Greater concerns with Roosevelt Island’s reckless riders…

Vehicles with four or more wheels are well-controlled on Main Street, with a couple of exceptions. They are:

  • Red bus drivers
  • All other RIOC licensed cars and trucks

You can’t expect drivers or riders to obey traffic laws that RIOC ignores for itself. PSD knows what’s going on, and it’s out of control.

They all play for the home team.

Yesterday, I caught a red bus at the subway station, and all the way up the Island, the driver stopped for signs only if he had no choice. If passengers weren’t getting off or on, he chugged straight through without hesitation.

I was not inspired to say, “Gee, that’s unusual.”

It happens all the time, and nothing gets done about it.

The same is true with RIOC managers. They’re just as carefree with traffic violations in cars and wagons.

And the reason I approached acting chief Brown in the first place was because I’d just watched a bright red pickup truck ignore every stop sign in the Main Street Canyon.

What the hell’s going on?

The absence of leadership at RIOC is routine.

Conclusion: Will anything change?

I used to think shaming RIOC might get them to change, but I was wrong. It won’t budge them an inch for long.

When RIOC’s negligence is exposed, it provokes nothing more than the standard political strategy: Put out a press release. Promise better. Do nothing.

It’s unfortunate. RIOC does so much well, from radically improved infrastructure to beautifully maintained park space.

Why can’t they do anything about bicycle safety and their own careless drivers?

One thing you can take to the bank — RIOC’s failures will contribute to accidents. After all, laws reduce risks, but they don’t apply on Roosevelt Island.

It’s a free-for-all on two wheels. And four, if you have a RIOC license plate.

Otherwise, you are on your own.

Be careful.

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4 Comments

  1. On August 18th I was sitting in Starbucks and observed a scooter travelling west zooming (I use “zooming” correctly) down the small hill from one of the establishments to the road. Now I await September 1. Isn’t that when the crackdown begins according to the letter given to local businesses? I can’t believe that these businesses have a profit margin large enough to withstand a lawsuit when the serious accident happens. Even with insurance their premiums will rise. RIOC is also risking ancillary legal action as they are aware of the situation thanks in part to your reporting.

    1. Author

      No need to wait until September 1st, unless they want time to get a crash in. I’m hope they will wave bank robbery for a few weeks too. I could use the cash.

      But seriously, it’s about leadership and setting standards. RIOC acts like a disinterested outsider that doesn’t care. They don’t even have to slap on any fines. Just make some stops and warnings. If that doesn’t work, fine ’em. As it is now, RIOC gives tacit approval to everything. It creates unnecessary risk for now gain. I’m tempted to say it makes no sense, but just calling it stupid works better. So, something has to wait an extra 20 seconds for their Chinese food. What’s the big deal?

      My personal favorite, by the way, is the guy I watched zooming on an electric scooter on the subway platform. Maybe the same joker you saw.

      Thanks.



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