Friday, July 11, 2008

Subway Interuptions Return - No F Train Service to Roosevelt Island From Manhattan This Weekend

Image from MTA

We knew that the recent streak of normal Roosevelt Island weekend train service could not last and it hasn't (May 16 - 18 was the last weekend of Roosevelt Island weekend subway disruptions). The MTA is reporting that there will be no F train service from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island this weekend but there will be F train service to Manhattan. The Tram will be operating on a normal schedule.

Readers of this post, Begona and Mike, suggest the following to improve Roosevelt Island transportation - Roosevelt Island bus service to Queens.
Here's an idea we thought of: how about RIOC or the MTA offering shuttle buses in Queens to and from the 21st Street F Train Station and the Roosevelt Island bridge for those willing to walk a little bit and avoid the subway crowd?
I think the NYC Q102 bus that circles Roosevelt Island does stop at at the 21 street F train station on its route but greater frequency of service sure could help. The Q103 stops on Vernon B'lvd at the foot of the Roosevelt Island Bridge and travels down Vernon to the #7 train at Vernon and Jackson Ave. More frequent service on this line might be of great use to Roosevelt Island as well.

And concerning crossing the East River from Roosevelt Island, reader victor was right asks:
... has anyone done a feasability study on a giant catapult?
Long time readers know that there have been several alternative systems considered for getting across the East River when the subway or tram is not working including being slingshot on the Roosevelt Island Shuttle:

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Shuttle

Will Roosevelt Island Become the New Paris? Let's Ask Regina Spektor And Other Things To Do This Weekend In NYC

You Tube video of Ile de la Cite, Paris

Among the things to do this weekend could be a walk around the Manhattan and Roosevelt Island perimeter of the East River following the trail laid out by blogger Walking Off The Big Apple. But be prepared for this stunning question by the blogger.
Can Roosevelt Island, in its own special way, become a new Paris?
Now that the paramedics have revived me, let's consider the blogger's proposition.
Why not invite a comparative discussion of Roosevelt Island in New York and the Île de la Cité in Paris? The islands both occupy important geographical sites within rivers of major world cities, one in the East River and the other in the Seine. The islands both served as locations for historic prisons - Blackwell's Island Penitentiary in New York and The Conciergerie in Paris, and both incarcerated famous women - Mae West, Emma Goldman, and Billie Holiday in NYC and Marie Antoinette, Charlotte Corday, and Madame du Barry in Paris. Large hospital complexes dominate the past and present of both islands, the legacy of the ancient practice of shifting patients with contagious diseases to areas of isolation and quarantine. The Hotel Dieu, founded in 651, is the oldest hospital in France.
Île de la Cité, about .75 miles from one end to the other, is smaller than the 2-mile long Roosevelt Island, and while accessible by many bridges, including the Pont Neuf, this island in Paris does not enjoy the delights of a tram system. The Parisian island has evolved greatly over the past ten centuries, and in its current state serves as headquarters for law, police, and religion, all housed in large institutional buildings. Roosevelt Island is also rapidly evolving, filling out an overall plan by Philip Johnson and John Burgee. Both islands feature basic retail and services.
Reading this, it almost makes sense to me. Almost. Like waking up from a dream and not quite sure if it was real or not. Anything in this video look like Roosevelt Island to you?

You Tube Video of L'ile de ls Cite set to Ne me quitte pas by Regina Spektor

If you are on Roosevelt Island this weekend remember Saturday's Community Action Fair at Lighthouse Park that includes recycling your old electronics and much more. From RIOC:
Community Action Fair

Goodwill Industries of Greater New York is proud to announce a “Community Action Fair” to be held on July 12th at Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island from 11am-4pm. Goodwill Industries together with Northwestern Mutual will sponsor over 30 organizations to connect New York City residents with public and private resources, as well as host a fun and exciting day out to the beautiful Lighthouse Park.

This free event will include:

* Education Zone- Adult classes and resources for kids!
* Green Environmental Zone- Learn about going Green!
* Clothing Donation Area- Donate clothing, computers, and household goods!
* Kids Play Area-The Natural History Moveable Museum- Kids can enjoy a Dinosaur Exhibit, as well as clowns, games, face painting, music and more!
* Business & Technology Zone- Scope out employment resources, and speak with possible employers!
* Health & Fitness Zone- Free Health Screenings provided by local healthcare professionals!
* Community Zone- Learn about services and agencies in your community!

For more information about the event please contact:
Goodwill Industries of Greater NY and Northern NJ
Youth Services Department
Here's weekend listings of other things to do in New York City from NY Times Urban Eye and NY Post.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

No Heavily Armed Segway Cops Needed For May 2008 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Incidents

Image of Chinese Anti-Terror Police on Segway from Wired

Stop holding your breath and don't worry. These are not the Roosevelt Island Public Safety officers coming after you for holding an open container that may contain alcohol at your next picnic. They are the Chinese Anti-Terror police preparing for next month's Beijing Olympics, if that makes you feel any better.

Back to Roosevelt Island. Below is is a breakdown of Roosevelt Island Public Safety statistics for May 2008 categorized by Calls for Service, Index of Crimes, Misdemeanors and Non- Crime Violations. As in previous months, the largest number of Public Safety responses (67) were for coming to the aid of injured or sick persons. There was also one assault (off Island) one robbery and one burglary on Island.

Read this document on Scribd: maypublicsafety

Here is the updated daily Roosevelt Island Public Safety reports for May 1 - July 6 2008. Note that there has been great progress the last few months in keeping the Motorgate Garage safe from vandalism. Since early April, there has been only one incident that I am aware of - on June 30. According to Public Safety report for that date:
vandalizedvehicle- psd officer observed vehicle in motorgate damaged level 5d.
But beware, if you do have an open container of alcohol, Roosevelt Island Public Safety Officers on Segways like this one may find you.

Image from RIOC

This is one of Roosevelt Island's Segway Cops who made an arrest using the Segway. (Not the Gentlemen in the photo though)

Bronx Zoo Tram Mishap Is Reminder For Roosevelt Island/ RIOC Seeking Proposals For Tram Modernization

As reported in today's NY Times:
About three dozen cable car passengers on a sightseeing ride were stranded for nearly five hours on Wednesday night at the Bronx Zoo after an emergency mechanism caused the ride to shut down, leaving riders dangling over the African Plains exhibit and other parts of the zoo.
I am sure that this incident reminded Roosevelt Islanders of similar situations that have occurred on the Roosevelt Island Tram over the years and is also a reminder that planning is well under way for the Tram being taken out of service next year for replacement and modernization so that these types of accidents do not happen again here or are at least minimized.

With that in mind RIOC has issued a construction and maintenance solicitation for the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway Modernization Project:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) is seeking Proposals from qualified and responsible companies to provide all design, fabrication, furnishing, construction, erection, installation and testing necessary and required for Modernization of the Roosevelt Island Tramway (the "Project") pursuant to a Design/Build Agreement and to operate the completed Project for a term of five (5) years pursuant to an Operating Agreement. A Proposal must include proposed terms for performance of both the Design/Build
Agreement Work and the Operating Agreement Work (collectively, the "Work").
RIOC will be holding a:
Pre-Bidders Meeting will be held on July 15, 2008 @ 10:00am EST at Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. 591 Main Street Roosevelt Island, NY 10044
Anybody out there want to build a new Tram?

At last month's Community Planning Board 8 joint Transportation/Roosevelt Island committee meeting we did learn that the capacity for each of the new, modernized Tram cable cars will be reduced by approximately 10% from current practice. However, as it was explained, since the cable cars will now be able to operate independent of each other, it will be possible to run both cars simultaneously in the same direction to handle any larger than normal passenger contingency.

For more info on other Tramway systems, here is an interesting 2006 study done for the City of Ogden Utah comparing various urban aerial tramway systems including ours on Roosevelt Island and the 2007 Portland Oregon Aerial Tram annual report.

UPDATE: 4:30 PM - From Re-Connecting America, Center for Transit Oriented Development, here is a comprehensive study on aerial tramways, gondolas and ropeways.

Also, Roosevelt Island 360 has more on the Bronx Zoo Tram mishap.

UPDATE - 1/26/09 - The Daily News is reporting that the Bronx Zoo is shutting down it's aerial tram.
The Bronx Zoo's Skyfari air tram, which stranded dozens of people for hours last year, has been permanently grounded, zoo officials said Friday.

But they insisted the decision to send it to the scrap heap was purely financial, saying the seasonal ride was getting too expensive to maintain.

They said once the zoo gets through the current economic downturn and government budget cuts, they are looking to build a new year-round, amusement park-like attraction for zoo patrons - on the ground....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

3G Apple iPhone Available For Sale On Friday

For those of you who care, and I am certainly one of them, Apple's new 3G iPhone will go on sale this Friday at Apple retail stores. How will the process work? According to Bloomberg News, Apple:

... will start selling its new iPhone at 8 a.m. nationwide on July 11 and plans to activate U.S. customer accounts with AT&T Inc. within 15 minutes.

``Our expectation is that in 10 to 15 minutes, you'll be set up and ready to go,'' Ron Johnson, Apple's retail chief, said today in an interview. Apple's more than 185 retail stores in the U.S. each aim to handle about 100 customers an hour, he said.

Here's WSJ's Walt Mossberg bottom line review:
If you've been waiting to buy an iPhone until it dropped in price, or ran on faster cell networks, you might want to take the plunge, if you can live with the higher service costs and the weaker battery life. The same goes for those with existing iPhones who love the device but crave faster cellular data speeds. But if you already own an iPhone, and can usually use Wi-Fi for data, you probably should hold off and get the free software upgrade before deciding whether it's worth getting the new hardware.
And a 38 minute Apple 3G iPhone guided video tour on You Tube. Also, NY Times Bits review of the iPhone reviews.

My primary concern with the iPhone has been the perceived inferior area coverage of the AT&T service and this from Mossberg's review does not help:
But I still found that calls regularly broke up on some major streets. In New York City, riding in a taxi along the Hudson, one important call was dropped three times on the new iPhone. Finally, I borrowed a cheap Verizon phone and got perfect reception.
But I am looking forward to many new innovative and useful third party applications.
If things go as Apple hopes, third-party software could be the biggest attraction to the new iPhone 3G, and to upgraded older iPhones. By some estimates, there will be hundreds of these programs, some free and some paid, almost immediately.
My bottom line on the iPhone. I am going to wait at least until next month when my current Verizon Wireless cell plan expires. By that time I hope most of the kinks are worked out of the iPhone and 3rd party applications. Then I will buy it.

UPDATE: 7/10 - AT&T is getting ready for the big Apple iPhone 3G day. According to Forbes:
Since many customers are likely to be first-time AT&T subscribers or new to the iPhone, AT&T is trying to educate consumers ahead of the launch. It has posted answers to frequently asked questions, such as whether the phone can be used internationally. It also produced three how-to videos that describe, for instance, how customers who already own iPhones can give their old phones to friends and family if they buy a new one
UPDATE - 4/23/09 - I have had my IPhone since last September and am very pleased with it. Also, the AT&T service has improved greatly over the last few months so that it works just fine on Roosevelt Island and the rest of New York City in my experience.

Roosevelt Island Getting Greener With Electronic Recycling Day and Big Belly Solar Trash Compactor

You Tube video of dangers from electronic waste

Received this message from State Senator Jose Serrano's office about an effort to assist Roosevelt Islanders and others to recycle our electronic waste including old computers, printers cell phones and more at the Roosevelt Island Community Action Fair to be held this Saturday from 11AM - 4 PM at Lighthouse Park.
Earlier this year, we heard from a Roosevelt Island constituent about
the need for more electronic recycling events on the island. We
communicated with Council on the Environment and are proud to report
they will be holding an event this coming Saturday...
More information on the event here:
Electronics Recycling and more at the Roosevelt Island Community Action Fair
Saturday, July 12, 11am-4pm
Lighthouse Park
Drop off computers, electronics, small appliances and even used
clothing and textiles for reuse or recycling. The event will also
feature great information and entertainment for kids. Sponsored by
Goodwill Industries of NY and Northern NJ. Roosevelt Island is
accessible by Tramway from 59th Street and 2nd Ave (just swipe your
Metrocard!), F Train to Roosevelt Island, Bus from Queensboro Plaza or
Car from via the Roosevelt Island Bridge at 36th Street in Long Island
City. For more information call 718-728-5400.
And don't forget about Roosevelt Island's test pilot program using Big Belly, the solar powered trash compactor located by the subway station

You Tube Video of Big Belly Solar Trash Compactor

or the recipe for home composting and Roosevelt Island's unique pneumatic garbage collection system.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Status of Roosevelt Island Subway Escalators - Real Improvement Or Pathetic Hope?

Image of Roosevelt Island subway escalator from RIRA

Has anyone else noticed that the Roosevelt Island subway escalators not currently undergoing capital repairs seem to be working more reliably the last 7 days or so? Maybe it is just the particular times that I have been using them, but to me the escalators breakdowns seem to be occurring less often than previously. It is pretty pathetic though, that a few days of normal escalator service is cause for celebration.

Sabrina At The Octagon - Who Is That Scantily Clad Goddess?

Our favorite Italian correspondent, Alain, sends in the above photo and asks the following question:

What is the monument entitled to "Sabrina" that sits in front of the Octagon? Have you ever seen it? Who is Sabrina?
Roosevelt Island 360 has the answer:
Sabrina is also the patron goddess of Amherst College. A metal casting of her, made by the J.L. Mott Iron Works of New York City, was given to the college by Massachusetts Lieut. Governor Joel Hayden in 1957. The statue was located adjacent to The Octagon building on the Amherst campus until 1885. Roosevelt Island's installation reestablishes the historic setting of Sabrina adjacent to an Octagonal building.
Read more about the sculpture here.

And check out the nearby Marriage of Real Estate and Money sculpture by Tom Otterness in the East River between the Octagon and Manhattan Park.

I have always enjoyed what has come to be called "public art" including recent projects such as Christo's Central Park Gates, Thom Sokoloski's Roosevelt Island Encampment and even Olafur Eliasson's current East River Waterfalls. In the near future, I think it would be great to see other examples of "public art", for instance 3D Street Art, come to the sidewalks or waterfront promenade of Roosevelt Island.

Image by Kurt Wenner

All images came from the weburbanist blog highlighting 10 of the world's most amazing 3D street artists. According to weburbanist 3D street art or:
3D graffiti, whether it’s in chalk or paint, on walls or the street, represents a new way of combining the mastery of Renaissance art techniques with the gritty, ephemeral qualities of amazing street art. These 3D street artists gives graffiti a whole new meaning – one that departs from the conventional interpretation of graffiti as vandalism in the form of images and letters scrawled on public property. Artists like Kurt Wenner, Eduardo Relero and Tracy Lee Stum create street art that’s so incredible it is almost impossible to pass by without being sucked in to the worlds they create on asphalt and concrete surfaces.
Looks pretty cool to me!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Good, Bad & Ugly Of Roosevelt Island July 4 Fireworks Extravaganza

You Tube video of 2008 Fourth of July Fireworks from Roosevelt Island

I purchased the last two general admission tickets to the July 4 Roosevelt Island Fireworks Extravaganza at the Tram station on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, I had two additional family members visiting from out of state and no more tickets were left. I contacted RIOC President Shane, explained the situation and asked him if there were two tickets left that I could purchase. Mr. Shane advised that there were none left but very kindly offered me two complementary VIP tickets to the event which I accepted. When the four of us arrived at Southpoint, I asked Mr. Shane if my two guests could accompany us in the VIP section which he again graciously permitted.

It was quite simply a great time despite the rain. The view of the Macy's fireworks from that section of the southern tip of Southpoint Park below the stairs was fantastic and the ribs, burgers and beans from concessionaire Dinosaur BBQ was equally great. (It was also free). When the rain started to pour down the event organizers handed out rain ponchos that made everyone as comfortable as possible. Before the fireworks started, I walked around the General Admission area and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The politicians kept the speeches short and there were several different live bands playing with people dancing up front, though the sound system was a little loud for my aging ears.

From what I could observe, many of the people in the VIP section were either RIOC employees, government officials and their staff, Roosevelt Island residents who have volunteered or provided some sort of service to the community as well as guests of these groups. I guess I fit in the latter category.

Here's a slightly different view from blogger amreekandesi in the General Admission Seats.
... The Macy’s ‘spectacular‘ has been a Newyork tradition for the past 32 years. This year we decided to watch it from Roosevelt Island, which supposedly offers the best views of the show.

The show was nice. I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as i did the first time two years back, but then the first time is always more enjoyable.

... About the much touted view from the island, lets just say i am not going there next year. They had put up this big stage bang in the middle of where you would see the show, and the best area of the park was reserved for ‘VIP’s. They get to watch the entire show from prime spots and the paying thousands of people sit and fret.
Getting out of there was a pain. Huge lines to get into the train station. It took us about an hour to get inside. I had expected delays, but not of such magnitude. (Wonder how many of these people were wondering if it was worth standing in this long line, in rain, for not so unobstructed views of the fireworks that they could have watched for free elsewhere!)

All in all, a great show, but Roosevelt Island failed to live up to expectations.

Image of General Admission seating looking towards stage

and looking from the stage towards Queensboro Bridge

Another blogger, monkeytale-tiger, definitely did not have a good time at the Roosevelt Island Fireworks show:
... In the evening my date had tickets to watch the fireworks from Roosavelt island. The tickets are for seating at the tip of the island past the ruins of the turn of the century smallpox asylum. May I give you a piece of advice, save your money and don't do it. Camp out of the FDR if you must, find a friend with rooftop access or even watch it on TV, but don't give your money to this horrid farce of an event.

Whoever the planner is, should be shot. Although they insisted that everybody be seated for the start of the fireworks, they didn't insist people remain seated and nobody bothered to say your going to have to put your umbrella's away. Needless to say, the thing was ruined by the preponderance of rude people who think because they are paying for something, they deserve the best, forget all the other people paying.
And getting off Roosevelt Island after the fireworks show was not pleasant either according to monkeytale-tiger:
... Then the next nightmare began, getting off the island was nearly impossible. This is Roosevelt island. The only way off is by tram or subway. You cannot walk off the island (I would like to know the city planner that needs to be whipped for that lack of insight and planning) on any of the bridges, not even into queens. I can think of few worse ideas that packing into a dangling cattle car stuffed with sweaty tourists and screaming kids to travel over the east river. But the MTA decided that the subways will be restricted to very few people trickling in.
Also, new Roosevelt Island residents begona and mike commenting on this post observed:
The celebration was great, but the utter chaos at the end of the event was frightening. No information, no coordination, nobody seemed to care that everyone was trying to leave and get off the island all at once.

I'm not sure if the crowd last night was bigger than anticipated, because nothing we had seen prior to the event gave any indication as to the mob scene that it would be attempting to leave. Thank goodness we were able to spot the "residents only" line at the Subway (which I had never seen publicized anywhere before), which allowed our family to get off the island without having to wait several hours in a disorganized unruly line of people. Yes there were some helpers in orange shirts outside the subway, but the best they could do was scream at people who were trying to cut the line.

How can the subway station handle a nonstop flow of people onto the platform with our access to the train already limited by construction? Very dangerous situation down there.

I also hope that the tram - which was filled to capacity - was stress-tested to handle that repeated one-way load. That can't be good for the tram.

There should be - at the very least - some kind of instructions provided when purchasing the tickets about exiting the island after the event. There should also be some other activities to do while waiting for the crowds to clear out following the event.
Roosevelt Island 360 observed the departure of the fireworks crowd at the Roosevelt Island subway station and thinks on balance the MTA and police did a good job getting people off the Island.
... Overall I believe the MTA and NYPD did a good job of ensuring that the flow of riders did not result in one continuous burst of individuals trying to access the escalators, elevators, stairs and platforms all at once which could have lead to accidents at any of those points. The flow of individuals was staggered to allow for easy access down to the platforms and also to ensure the platforms were never overly crowded.

The first thing I noticed was that the MTA set up three defined entrance points (1) Metrocard holders (2) individuals with strollers, and (3) Roosevelt Island residents. The Metrocard holders entry point snaked a bit off towards the East / right away from the entrance and then back to the entrance to prevent the line from simply being a straight line back from the door to ensure no straight rush could be made for the doors. The RI residents line allowed residents immediate access no matter what with no delays which was a great feature.
Read the whole post. 360 took video of the Roosevelt Island evacuation.

I noticed that many people avoided the crowded subway lines by going to Starbucks which stayed open past midnight or to Nonnos for a pizza. That was the way to do it.

Late night at crowded Roosevelt Island Starbucks

Midnight crowd at Nonnos after fireworks

End of Roosevelt Islander's First Year, Beginning of Second - Thanks to Everyone For Contributing!

Roosevelt Islander Monthly readership statistics mid-September 2007 - June 2008 from Statcounter

The Roosevelt Islander Blog is starting it's second year of existence this week having begun on July 4, 2007. Hard to believe it has been a full year of blogging. I want to thank everybody in the community of Roosevelt Islanders from all over the world who have contributed their thoughts, ideas, comments, suggestions and links. They are all greatly appreciated. Please continue to do so because much of the information and ideas for posts come from you.

I also want to thank RIOC President Steve Shane who, though we may disagree on some particular issues facing Roosevelt Island, has always been available to answer questions and provide comments on issues of concern to the people who live on Roosevelt Island. Assemblymember Kellner and State Senator Serrano, together with their staffs, have also contributed to the blog and I am grateful for their participation. Dick Lutz and the Main Street WIRE have been a great resource for current news about Roosevelt Island as well as a fantastic historical archive. Fellow blogger Roosevelt Island 360 has provided much assistance as well as interesting posts to link to. The Common Council members of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association have also been of great help. Most of all, I want to thank Barbara for indulging me while I rant and rave over one thing or another. Without her, none of this would be possible or worthwhile.

Here is the first post. This all started because I thought it was not right to charge admission to view the July 4 fireworks at Southpoint Park. At that time, and for quite a bit thereafter, all POSTS WERE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. NYC's leading neighborhood and real estate blog Curbed thought the CAPS were a desperate cry for ... something :
All caps? GENIUS. We can think of no better way to draw the necessary attention to these critical issues. Bravo, sir. Also: we're sort of scared now.
It wasn't genius - but probably was a desperate cry.

To summarize the year with statistics, there have been a total of 593 posts. Since beginning to keep readership statistics with Statcounter on September 10, 2007, through July 3 2008, the Roosevelt Islander blog had a total of 63,031 unique visitors or an average of 212 per day. The chart above represents the monthly readership statistics beginning in Mid-September 2007 - June 2008. June 2008 had the largest monthly readership of 8,368.

Finally, I received this very nice comment yesterday from Bill, a potential new Roosevelt Island resident, which makes me feel that continuing the blog is of some value:
Thank you so much for creating this Roosevelt Island blog. You are really helping me in finding out things that will influence my decision on whether or not to become a Roosevelt Islander.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Leaving Roosevelt Island By Subway And Tram After Fireworks Celebration - Quite A Mess But Uneventful!

Image of subway crowd leaving Roosevelt Island after July 4 fireworks from etienne-laurie via Roosevelt Island 360

I have never seen so many people at the Roosevelt Island subway station and Tramway as I did last Friday night with people trying to leave the Island after the July 4 Fireworks show. Readers of this post, begona and mike, send in the following comments:
I'm not sure if the crowd last night was bigger than anticipated, because nothing we had seen prior to the event gave any indication as to the mob scene that it would be attempting to leave
There will be more on the Fourth of July festivities from Roosevelt Island tomorrow.

UPDATE - 5PM: Reader Craig offers this observation on subway crush and possible solution to future Roosevelt Island extravaganzas based upon Coney Island experience:
when we went to the mermaid parade, the police simply opened the service gates and let people through for free and avoided a crush like that...
I've seen similar practices after Yankee games or concerts as well. Good idea depending upon circumstances on the ground at the time.