Roosevelt Islanders Denied Overnight Bike Parking [Updated]

RIrack.JPGPhoto: Roosevelt Island 360

Just in time for Bike to Work Day: Cyclists on Roosevelt Island were informed by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation this week that bikes may no longer be parked on public racks overnight. Here’s the vaguely Orwellian RIOC memo from yesterday, care of Roosevelt Island 360:

While we wish to encourage residents continuing to ride their
bicycles as it is a healthy activity, we wish to discourage residents
from storing their bicycles overnight on the bicycle racks throughout
the island.

Bicycles will be removed by the
Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department between the hours of 2:00
a.m. and 5:00 a.m. and stored at Public Safety for a period of 48
hours. If the owner retrieves their bicycle during the 48 hour period
there will be no charge for storing their bicycle. If the owner does
not retrieve their bicycle during the 48 hour period it will be donated
to the Thrift Shop.

Storing the bicycles on the
bike racks has been a quality of life issue for many residents, thus we
wish to address this quality of life issue.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

How using a bike rack for its intended purpose could offend one’s quality of life sensibilities is an open question, and we have a call in to the RIOC for clarification. In the meantime, wonders one Roosevelt Island 360 reader:

Where else are we supposed to park our bikes over night? Is the RIOC
going to offer us any alternative? Are we supposed to bring our bikes
into our apartments now? How about we don’t allow cars to park on the
streets over night anymore?

Update: We got a call from RIOC President Steve Shane, who basically confirmed what Eric of Roosevelt Island 360 had to say. According to Shane, the new no-overnight parking rule is meant to keep racks clear of "rusty, abandoned bikes," and to make it easier for regular commuters and recreational cyclists to use them. Shane says the abundance of derelict bikes has caused an unwelcome "spillover," leading cyclists to chain up wherever they can. RIOC is still working on a permanent fix. "We are never finished looking at ideas," Shane said.

  • anonymous

    More importantly, why does bike parking affect people’s quality of life while they’re sleeping but not during the rest of the day when they’re awake and might actually see the bikes?

    The only possible explanation I can think of is that there were bike burglaries and people are worried that having bikes out will tempt thieves onto the island and subsequently threaten other types of property as well. But none of this seems to have been mentioned in the notice.

  • This is just sheer idiocy. There’s nothing else to say about it.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Storing the bicycles on the bike racks has been a quality of life issue for many residents, thus we wish to address this quality of life issue.

    I would go ballistic if I were a person living on the Island who is dependent on a bicycle to get around.

    The bizarro nature of sentence above strongly suggests that RIOC does not have a rational or reasonable justification for banning parked bikes from bike racks. They can’t even explain why they are doing it. If you can’t park a bike at a bike rack, where can you park it?

    I can’t wait to find out what exactly the “quality of life issue” is and what other solutions were (and were not) considered by the RIOC “to address this quality of life issue.”

  • The only reason I can think of for such a policy is to allow them to remove orphan bikes from the racks.

  • t

    As a co-op owner and rider, I’d be more upset if all of those bikes were coming in and out of my building every night. If people want to leave them outside, let ’em!

    It would make sense if they said bikes left for a week or more would be moved, much like cars getting ticketed or towed for violating alternate side parking regs. But this makes ZERO sense.

  • Brooklyn

    People leave bikes outside, overnight? F-that. I value my bikes way too much.

    Bring them inside, people. Clean them and love them so they’ll give you long years of service.

    Is there a rule against bringing bikes indoors? If so, I better see similar rules for double-wide strollers and granny carts.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    They might as well reverse course right now. This is gonna be all over the news. Most idiotic decision ever heard, and announcing during Bike to Work Month. They should start towing cars parked all over the island too in those UGLY parking lots.

  • If the island authority is willing to remove bikes and store them in the Public Safety Department overnight, why now allow people to bring their bikes to the Public Safety Department for secure overnight parking? I’m not a biker, but if I were one, I would sure love to have a secure parking facility with guards to keep my expensive bike safe.

  • sarah

    The way chicago deals with orphaned bikes is if a neighbor reports an orphaned bike the city will securly tie a sign to the bike that says “move your bike within 3 weeks or we’ll take it”. Which is fair. Maybe some neighbors complained about seeing a lot of discarded bikes locked to racks and wanted the eye sore cleaned up. But talk about a HUGE overreaction. I agree with the 360 reader, can we also ban cars from parking on the street at night? That would improve my quality of life as a cyclist; I’d never have to worry about being doored on my early morning commute.

  • I think this about par for the course about the way RIOC makes decisions. My theory for why this happened is that some spoiled RI resident complained to the residents board and they decided that this was a good idea and made it happen. From what I have heard since I’ve been working on the island(2 months or so) that is pretty much how things get done at RIOC.

  • Can we get some spoiled resident to complain about all the cars on the island then?

  • As a car-light community I was surprised Roosevelt Island isn’t oarticularly bike friendly. The 36th Avenue bridge doesn’t allow cycling on the sidewalk and the roadway is a real danger to narrow tires. And the roadways leave much to be desired.

    Now the idea that cyclists can’t use the bike racks overnight makes absolutely no sense. Why should Roosevelt Island cyclists have fewer rights than other cyclists throughout the city?

    This would seem like a prime environment for various forms of bicycle parking, from indoor garages to the various individual bike enclosures we’ve seen elsewhere, or even Bike Shelters. Wouldn’t it be better to resolve whatever problem might exist with a carrot instead of a stick?

  • Stacy, the sad part is that the island is not really part of the city, the land is owned by the city but leased to the state and RIOC which runs the island is owned and operated by the state not the city.

    It is an utter disappointment that the island is not more bike friendly because of its limited and contained environment it could easily be a model of progressive transportation and planning policy. I don’t think either of those are goals of RIOC(if they have goals). The only development that happens on the island is Le Corusierian upper/middle income projects.

  • Streetsman

    Hang on. I think the problem here is that there are bikes that are parked there for months without being used, taking up valuable bike parking space from regular users. We have the same problem in the small bike parking facility in the building where I work – people leave bikes there forever and then the rack runs out of spaces. This is not necessarily the correct approach by the RIOC, but how would you address the problem? You don’t want to get into an Amsterdam train station problem where there are piles of abandoned bikes locked to racks, and nowhere to park.

  • I think a better solution, if that is the problem, would be to put a sign on bikes that have been there for a while telling people they will be removed if they are still there in 3 weeks. Not every night.

  • What I have been told is that the complaint has been that the racks are being used as long term storage by residents who don’t want to take their bikes inside and that those bikes are preventing commuters and others from using the bikes on a daily short term basis. There is some logic to this.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    They should be tagged and after a month if they aren’t moved then removed, that’s fair enough game for me. Something should be done, but this is the incorrect policy.

    What if they started towing cars in those ugly parking lots and if the owner didn’t come and pick up within 2 days they got donated to the thrift store?

  • J. Mork

    Mark Walker — it looks like they are already offering to store your bike for free overnight in the public safety office.

    Just leave in on the rack overnight and make you pick it up in less than 48 hours.

  • Some logic, but it’s limited. What about offering secure long-term bike storage in the Motorgate for a monthly fee? Then you can have a no-overnight-parking rule.

  • This could become as tedious as Alternate Side of the Street Parking where commuters run downstairs to move their bikes before the authorities arrive.

    But if cyclists have to bring their bikes inside at night then what’s the purpose in having bike racks? Are they for guests who don’t plan to stay for dinner?

  • I can think of another good solution. More bike racks!

  • I am 100% in favor of this policy — but only if it’s coupled with a parallel rule that cars in New York City may no longer be parked on public streets overnight.

  • Brooklyn

    @ Roosevelt360: that does make sense. Abandoning bikes on racks is the height of stupidity, and is indeed a quality of life issue, just like broken windows. Shame on Islanders who don’t care enough about their surroundings — or their bikes — to properly care for either.

    Anywhere else in the city, and I might spread blame on outsiders, vagrants, delivery people etc. But who, other than people who live there, would ride all the way over R.I. just to dump a bike?

  • They could even institute a version of alternate-side parking: paint half the racks one color and the other half another color, and say that on Wednesdays the blue racks will be cleared for “cleaning” and on Fridays the red ones.

  • Doug

    It’s amazing how you get dozens of sensible and creative solutions when you put the ideas out there on the blog like this for public discussion. It’s a far cry from the “all or nothing” choices we get from public officials.

    If Streetsblog readers can come up with these ideas in mere seconds, how long did it take the powers that be on Roosevelt Island to come up with the least sensible idea imaginable?

  • The problem here is that the policy is more reactive than constructive. Obviously abandoned bikes and bike racks that aren’t working for the community is a problem for everyone, but the policy in place here makes it very clear that the RIOC isn’t isn’t interested in building consensus for good bike policy in a situation in which it would have been very easy to do so.

    These kinds of policies that make owning a bike a hassle do so much damage. How many buildings won’t let me bring my bike the lobby? How many buildings prohibit bike storage in common areas or have made bike storage massively inconvenient? Would it have been that much harder to adress this issue in a more constructive manner? Probably not. It doesn’t matter if the DOT is putting down bike lanes on every street if every tenants association, co-op board and two bit government agency isn’t going to engage cyclists in a meaningful way.

  • Even if the aims of the policy are good, the implementation is terribly backward. So great, RIOC is concerned about abandoned bikes. Their solution is to tell everyone to take a hike? That’s moronic.

    I see that Steve Shane has contacted Streetsblog. I hope he’s bothered to read the comments here too. The ideas here are far better than his half-baked non-solution.

  • zach

    Yes Capn! Weekly, or even monthly, cleaning/clearing of racks! It’s equally absurd to have no overnight parking altogether, and to have unused bikes sit there for months and even years taking up useful rack space.

  • Josh

    Orwellian doesn’t seem like the right word; this is just vague (a quality-of-life issue how?) and nonsensical.

  • LN

    Who commutes TO Roosevelt Island?

    Another example of how Roosevelt Island deals with bikes. Most of the older Rosey Isle buildings have bike rooms. Last year residents got a letter that unless their bikes were registered with the security office, the bikes would be removed. But security office was never able to register the bikes, we tried daily for a month and finally gave up.

  • Det

    Maybe you couldn’t get the bike registered because there is no security office.


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