Roosevelt Island Bike Racks Cleared … So Cyclists Can Use Them

2009May_27_Space_Cleared.jpgPhoto: Roosevelt Island 360

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, as promised, has begun confiscating bikes left overnight on public bike racks near the subway and tram stations. Roosevelt Island 360 reports that 17 bikes were removed as of Wednesday, while three others were tagged with warning fliers (RIOC needed a "special tool," not immediately available, to remove locks from the tagged bikes).

An email exchange between RI 360 and the RIOC reveals that, as of yesterday, one bike had been claimed "without incident" from the island’s Department of Public Safety, where confiscated bikes are to be held 48 hours before being donated to a thrift store. Wrote public safety director Keith Guerra:

We are noticing that many residents have removed their bikes on their
own and there is now plenty of room for those that wish to use the bike
racks.

Gotta hand it to those Roosevelt Island bureaucrats: They sure have a way with words.

  • Cyclists, please do not use the bike racks. Please leave them free for cyclists who wish to park their bikes. Cyclists using the bike racks and thus preventing cyclists from using the bike racks will have their bikes removed so that other bikes may be parked and subsequently removed to make room for bikes.

  • I don’t even know what this new policy is supposed to achieve? Is there a huge shortage of commuter bike parking on the island? Were the old bikes home to families of raccoons?

    Why not work with cyclists to solve the problem in a way that benefits the community? All that this policy does is sow is confusion and anger in the bike community and reduce the convenience of biking. Nice work RIOC!

  • Down with bike racks! Long live bike racks!

  • anonymous

    Sounds like legalized bike theft.

  • The “problem” accordin g to RIOC was local residents who were using the racks as long term storage blocking access to commuters.

    The subway station sits within a cluster of buildings that charge for access to their bike rooms. A number of residents took advantage of the free parking. In theory not a bad idea. Unfortunately it was too cluttered and was blocking local commuters from daily use.

    Disallowing overnight parking and removing any bike found between 2am and 5am was RIOC’s answer to the problem.

  • Id hate to be out of town for a couple of weeks when this was announced.
    I’m all for removing abandoned bikes, but this isnt the way.

    The best way would be to tag the bikes that look abandoned (rust and such), leave the tag for a week, remove the bike, hold it for a week, and then donate it.

    Isnt an easy solution to bike rack congestion….involve installing more racks?

  • Nathan

    After seeing derelict bikes chained to signposts throughout the East Village, I see what R-Island is going for. But it seems like an “alternate side parking” idea could achieve the same idea: divide all the racks on the island in one of two groups. Have the first group allow overnight parking every day except Monday, and the second group would allow them every day except Thursday. That way, there’s still a weekly cleaning, but normal bikes that are used every day could still be kept overnight *somewhere* on the island each night.

  • Thanks, Eric, for the patient explanation.

    I can see how it would be frustrating for regular commuters not to be able to find a parking spot because all the good racks were occupied with semi-abandoned bicycles: the kind the owner leaves locked up outside all winter.

  • CR

    Disemboweled or even just abandoned bikes are an eyesore. This move anyone who uses their bike on a regular bases was unaffected by this as they found new shelter for their bike.

  • I think Jass hit the right note. Tag for a week, then hold for a week.

    After all, you don’t see towed cars donated to the thrift store after 2 days….

  • Randy Kato

    CR, that’s not true at all. It has affected many regular cyclists, who cannot lock up their bikes for a late night or overnight outing without fear of them being seized. It’s not just the seizure of the bike, but the destruction of very expensive bike locks.

    A daily clearing is like tossing the baby with the bath water.

  • Thanks to everyone for their comments and interest over all three Streetsblog posts about this issue. Roosevelt Island is run by RIOC, a state authority, with broad powers over how the island is managed.

    We are slowly getting “home rule” in that we are slowing being able to elect individuals as nominees to RIOC’s Board of Directors, who then are hopefully appointed by the Governor or Mayor to the Board after they are confirmed by the State Senate. Not exactly direct elections but the best, under the state law, we are currently being afforded.

    Once the new Directors are seated I am hoping current policies like the overnight parking ban can be rethought and worked out in a manner that works for all sides.

  • LN

    The Rosey Isle thrift shop has some of the cheapest stuff in the city. Now we know we can get bikes there next week, cheep!

    The rack was full Monday afternoon when I passed it.

    Bikes are going to be your only transport on weekends when the F decides not to go there and the tram goes down for more than a year — coming soon.

  • So the solution to over-use of bike racks is not to install more bike racks, but rather to reduce the number of bikes using the racks.

    Imagine if we applied this concept to car parking. Don’t add more car parking spaces, just donate any cars that park too long to charity.

  • Yvonne Przybyla

    I believe that this is great news for Roosevelt Island residents!

    Improving cycling infrastructure was one of the recommendations made by AccessRI, a comprehensive community planning study conducted by group of Graduate Students from the Hunter College Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, Commissioned by New York State Senator José M. Serrano’s Office. The group suggested making use of abandoned bikes left on bike racks for extended periods and in turn freeing up space for others.

    To find out more information about AccessRI check out their blog http://accessri.blogspot.com/
    They will be releasing their final report shortly.

    Yvonne Przybyla
    Urban Policy Analyst
    Senator José M. Serrano

    Serrano.nysenate.gov
    evie.nys@gmail.com

  • Two new things added to my “to do list”:

    1. Hit up the Roosevelt island thrift store for some bikes.

    2. Do not vote for Senator Serrano.

  • Does the Roosevelt Island thrift store have a web site?? I’d ride out there but I’m afraid someone might confiscate my bike from under me…

  • Randy Kato

    Yvonne,
    This has been terrible news for many R.I. residents. We are now afraid to use the bike racks for their intended purpose because if we stay out late or overnight, our legitimate (not abandoned) bikes will be removed and possibly claimed by a stranger (how are they verifying ownership?), not to mention our bike locks being destroyed.

    I’m assuming you are supporting the goal, but not the methods being implemented to achieve it? I think you should word your comments very carefully, especially when speaking on behalf of a Senator. “gary fisher” obviously confused your support of abandoned bike removal for support of this particular method of ALL bike removal.

  • Yvonne Przybyla

    Just to clarify, the report does not recommend that overnight bike parking not be allowed. During the study, students identified a large number of abandoned bikes parked in the few available bike parking spots. It was clear they were abandoned, in some cases the chains were rusted and the bikes were no longer in any condition to be used. It was recommended that a program involving local youth be put into place to repair and make use of these abandoned bikes.

  • Randy Kato

    Understood, but we’re commenting on the policy enacted by RIOC, not on the AccessRI report. RIOC’s current policy is no use of the bike racks at all between 2am and 5am.

    I like what’s been proposed in the report. I very much dislike what has been implemented by RIOC, as it is in fact discouraging bicycle use.

  • I was not confused about anything. I think the confusion was on Yvonne’s part, about the definition of improvement. I was just stating my knee jerk reaction to a representative of the senator supporting this absurd policy.

    What is a commuter who works third shift supposed to do? How about someone who just lives by the train or tram and bikes off island either over the bridge into queens or rides the tram with their bike?

    Is the only justifiable use of the bike racks that they be used by RI residents to bike the one mile(at the most) from their apartment in the Octagon to the train/tram for their 9-5 job after which they promptly return home and never go anywhere late at night?

    I am sure I will not be voting for someone who applauds that kind of policy.

  • Jessica

    I think it would be a good idea if the plan were implemented the way the AccessRI group envisioned it. Old abandoned bikes should be removed. It’s just a quality of life matter. The person from the Senator’s office was just making the point that they didn’t support the removal of bikes left overnight, only bikes that were rusting and obviously abandoned.

    And Gary, I dont think you’ll be voting for anyone in this neighborhood, because according to your blog, you live in Greenpoint.

  • Just makes it easier for me.

  • Randy Kato

    Here’s the official answer I got directly from RIOC president Steve Shane (The Octagon rack reference is to a specific question about the rack at my building):

    We are enforcing the policy as to bikes overnight at the Tram and subway only. We have nothing to do with the Octagon bike rack. The purpose of enforcement is to free up the racks for commuters so as to encourage bicycle ridership. Locking to street signs or other “fixtures” is not allowed. If you’re out past 2AM, either plan ahead and take the bus or retrieve your bike from PS when and if it is taken from the rack. It’s a strange parent that doesn’t know their own child. Similarly with bicycles. We are always considering alternatives and want to thank you for your suggestions. The grace period was for the week when the policy was first announced and is not in effect. Enforcement is having a salutary effect. Witness the available spaces in the racks by the Tram and Subway.

    Stephen H. Shane
    President & CEO
    Roosevelt Island Operating Corp.
    (212) 832-4540 x 319
    (212) 832-4582 (fax)

    Basically they’re saying “screw you” to legitimate cyclists who happen to be a small enough minority that it’s easier to ignore them than to do things more sensibly….. and I have no idea what the “strange parent” thing means.

  • re: “strange parent”: I like the idea that my bicycle would yip and bark in canine fashion to recognize me, or maybe do a track stand while rubbing its saddle against my leg, like my cat does when I come home.

    Although I am not an RI resident, it seems as if the set of affected cyclists has now shrunk to the intersection of two groups: islanders who bike from their RI dwellings to the subway/tram, but no further; and islanders who stay out until after 2 am. Is this correct, or am I misreading Shane’s correspondence?

    One more thing: Randy, which cyclists are not included in the set of “legitimate cyclists”?

  • Randy Kato

    By non-legit bikes, I mean the ones they were trying to get rid of (abandoned bikes and essentially permanently stored bikes). I’m all for opening up rack space by removing these, but a nightly sweep is b.s.

    At least they’re not doing it elsewhere on the island, as they had originally declared. So visitors to the island should still be OK locking up late/overnight near where they’re visiting.

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