Wednesday, October 14, 2015

RIOC To Consider Bicycle/Pedestrian Only Roosevelt Island Motorgate Helix Ramp To Street - Cornell Tech & AKRF Engineers To Study Feasibility

As reported September 21:
... On Wednesday, September 9, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Advisory Committee rejected banning bicycles from the Roosevelt Island Bridge Helix. Instead RIOC will seek to improve safety with better signage, road striping and education as well as examining if the broken Motorgate Atrium escalator can be fixed so bicycle riders can use it instead of the helix ramp....

During last evening's (October 13) RIOC Operations Advisory Committee meeting (audio web cast here), RIOC President Charlene Indelicato reported the results of a preliminary Helix Ramp study by Cornell Tech and their engineering consultants AKRF. According to Ms. Indelicato,  the Cornell Tech/AKRF study concluded that fixing the Motorgate Escalator for use by bicycle riders was not an option but there is a possibility of installing a bike/pedestrian only ramp from the Motorgate Helix to the street level at the East Promenade.

Here's Ms. Indelicato advising the RIOC Operations Advisory Committee of the possible bicycle/pedestrian only Motorgate Helix ramp,

next steps for a feasibility study and RIOC Director Michael Shinozaki reviews current bike safety issues on Roosevelt Island Helix ramp.

Ms. Indelicato also noted that if it is determined to be a viable project, the Roosevelt Island Helix bicycle/pedestrian only ramp would have to wait until after the first phase of Cornell Tech is completed in 2017 before being built.

Below is October 7 letter from AKRF to Cornell Tech Director Of Capital Planning Andrew Winters describing in greater detail the plan to study possibility of Roosevelt Island Bicycle/Pedestrian only Helix Ramp.
Re: Cornell Applied Sciences – Roosevelt Island Bicycle Helix

Dear Mr. Winters:

Based on our understanding of the additional scope of work items discussed at our meeting of September 24th, 2015 attended by you and representatives from RIOC and AKRF, we request authorization to proceed with the following additional work items.


AKRF is pleased to submit this proposal to assist in developing recommendations to improve bicycle access and circulation on Roosevelt Island, with a focus on travel between the Roosevelt Island (36th Avenue) Bridge and the Cornell Tech campus. This scope focuses on assessing the feasibility and cost of a bicycle helix structure connecting the elevated structure just west of the Roosevelt Island Bridge (herein referred to as “Motorgate Garage Level 4 entryway structure”) to the north-south service road along the East River – East Channel to provide a direct access to a proposed two-way bike path. Also, because there is an interest on behalf of Roosevelt Island’s residents and visitors in seeing short-term improvements, we have included a scope of work to assess the potential for immediate action pavement striping and signage improvements on the helix and its approaches.

Scope of work


AKRF will perform a site visit to inventory the pavement markings and signage on the helix and approaches, which we will illustrate in CAD drawings. As-built drawings of the helix and Motorgate Garage Level 4 entryway structure are required for this task and are expected to be provided by RIOC. If drawings cannot be furnished, we have included a contingency task for AKRF to collect the necessary geometric data. We will collect a photo inventory during both day and night time periods to illustrate driver points-of-view during various lighting conditions, and the ability to see pavement markings, signage and bicyclists on the helix and approaches. The physical inventory drawings and photo log will provide the existing conditions against which current standards will be compared.

After a comparison to current standards and best practices for pavement striping and signage, AKRF will recommend striping and signage improvements, which may consist of new signage, new striping, scarification of existing striping, and removal of existing signage. To assist bicyclists and pedestrians with wayfinding, we will include signage recommendations to access the existing elevator and stairs. Although it is not possible to physically prohibit bicyclists and pedestrians from using the helix, additional signage in the short term could reduce the unintended use of the helix by bicyclists and pedestrians. We will illustrate the proposed improvements on the existing conditions CAD drawings. Also, we will provide approximate costs for materials and installation, as we did for the proposed Roosevelt Island Two-Way Bicycle Facility.

For budgeting purposes, traffic engineering studies, traffic signal warrants, AutoTurn templates, and other detailed analyses are not assumed to be necessary for this task since the existing lane configurations, traffic control, and approximate lane widths would be maintained.


AKRF will assess the potential for a direct bicycle connection from the Motorgate Garage Level 4 entryway structure to the street level below. We will assess the potential for a two-way helix taking off from the north side of the structure and landing adjacent to the existing service road along the East River – East Channel, which is the location of the potential future two-way bike path. To perform this work, AKRF requires a copy of the as-built drawings for the Motorgate Garage Level 4 entryway structure and proposed landing point area, which are expected to be provided by RIOC. If drawings cannot be furnished, we have included a contingency task for AKRF to collect the necessary geometric data.

The various considerations for this assessment are material (steel, concrete, hybrid), allowable grade (ADA will be followed) and curvature, height and lateral clearances for fire apparatus and bridge inspection equipment, and width of the structure, and effective width of the path on the bike helix. We will conduct an iterative assessment where the geometric constraints (height, width, grade, and curvature) are first identified, followed by an assessment of operational options. Next, we will explore different operational options, such as a shared space where bicyclists and pedestrians mix, a facility where pedestrians and cyclists are separated by striping or a physical barrier, or an all-pedestrian facility where cyclists must dismount and walk their bicycles alongside pedestrians. For budgeting purposes, it is assumed that a preferred alternative will be identified through this process. If the assessment does not identify that a potential exists for a bike helix at this location, Task 2 will be halted and the Project Team notified before illustrative sketches or cost estimates are prepared.

Once a preferred alternative is identified, we will provide illustrative sketches from these two points-of-view:

The sketches will be rendered in color, showing the materials, shadows and dimensions in the same scale as the base photo. We will provide the renderings in .pdf so that they can be shared electronically. If production of the renderings on presentation boards or other hard copy media is needed, we will provide these on at-cost basis, as directed by the Project Team.

We will also provide approximate costs for materials and installation of the bicycle helix preferred alternative, independent of permitting and approvals, environmental remediation, land acquisition, and other costs. For budgeting purposes, structural, geotechnical, hazmat and other detailed site feasibility studies are not assumed to be necessary for this task since this task is the first step in determining feasibility from a geometric constraints perspective.

We anticipate that this work will be completed within approximately two months of AKRF receiving the necessary as-built drawings, or within approximately two months of AKRF’s completion of collecting geometric data if drawings cannot be furnished....  We appreciate you inviting us to meet with you on September 24th to brainstorm ideas to improve bicycle access to Roosevelt Island and to the Cornell Applied Sciences Campus, and welcome the opportunity to continue serving you on this important project.
RIOC did stripe the Motorgate Helix Ramp a few days ago

though Frank Farance points out the striping

being uneven in some spots.

UPDATE 10/19 - The October 13 RIOC Operations Advisory Committee discussed the uneven Helix Striping too. RIOC President Indelicato acknowledged that the striping was uneven, RIOC only had one bidder for the job, but the stripes do the job she said.