Cornell Tech to Study “Bike Helix” for Roosevelt Island Campus Access

Cornell Tech will study the feasibility of a helix-shaped bike ramp from the Roosevelt Island Bridge to street level. Photo: Roosevelt Islander
Cornell Tech will study the feasibility of a spiraling bike and pedestrian ramp from the Roosevelt Island Bridge to street level. Photo: Roosevelt Islander

There’s a new proposal for bike access on Roosevelt Island.

Over the summer the Roosevelt Island Residents Association called to ban bike riders from the helix ramp that motorists and cyclists use to get to and from the island, after a driver hit a cyclist on the ramp in July. That idea was rejected by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, the state authority that manages the island.

The RIOC decided to seek another solution for improving bike safety, including striping and signage on the helix. Cornell Tech, which is building a campus on the island, agreed to look into repairing an escalator in the island’s Motorgate parking garage, which would also allow for cyclist access.

Roosevelt Islander reports that at an October 13 meeting, RIOC president Charlene Indelicato said that engineers hired by Cornell Tech determined that repairing the escalator for cyclist use “was not an option.” However, according to the Islander, Indelicato said “there is a possibility of installing a bike/pedestrian only ramp from the Motorgate Helix to the street level at the East Promenade.”

According to documents posted by Roosevelt Islander, engineering firm AKRF will investigate the possibility of a direct bike connection — a “bike helix” — from level four of the Motorgate garage to the street below, where there would be a two-way bike path leading to the Cornell Tech campus.

If the project is deemed viable, construction would begin sometime after the first phase of the campus is completed in 2017.

In the meantime, AKRF will survey the helix and garage for interim changes, including striping and signage (yellow lines were already installed on the helix). Though there are no plans to try to keep people off the helix, AKRF says new signage would encourage cyclists and pedestrians to use the existing stairs and elevator.