Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Columbia University Urban Planning Town Hall Meeting on Roosevelt Island Transortation Issues - Is the Slingshot Over The East River Ready For Action?

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Shuttle Slingshot by Robert Hickman

RIOC's Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder sends the message below to all members of the Roosevelt Island community regarding a study and Town Hall Meeting on Roosevelt Island Transportation Alternatives undertaken by the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The Town Hall Meeting will take place on Thursday night (7:15 PM) January 22 at the Good Shepherd Community Center (543 Main Street) All forms of Roosevelt Island transportation options will be addressed including the subway, tram, cars, Red Bus, Ferries and maybe even some that have not been considered yet.

Although being flung across the East River looks like fun, I don't think that The Roosevelt Island Sling Shot is ready for public use - at least not yet!

As Roosevelt Island residents know all too well, the community has evolved during the past 40 years from the much heralded and highly innovative “new town in town” concept of the 1960’s. Formative concepts such as a “traffic free” environment and battery operated “mini buses” have given way to practicalities, budget realities and a growing population. A fresh look is needed at the impact of present and future growth.

The Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture’s Urban Planning program will focus on recommendations to improve access within, to and from the Island by looking at all the various transportation modes. Improving pedestrian and bicycle access will be evaluated especially since an early aspect of the design of Roosevelt Island was to have an auto free community. Journey to work access will be evaluated by looking at all available and potential modes: bus, tram, subway, vehicular circulation, potential ferry and even perhaps new and innovative approaches that are not yet even on the radar screen.

Eleven students led by Dr. Floyd Lapp, FAICP, an adjunct professor of planning at Columbia, will work on the project starting now and into the first half of May. Dr. Lapp, an urban planning practitioner with 45 years experience, asserts that this will not be just an academic exercise. The team will reach out to the community and appropriate agencies and organizations seeking realistic and practical solutions. Toward that end, a community meeting will be held in the Good Shepherd Community Center on Thursday, January 22, at 7:15 to describe the proposed project in greater detail and seek suggestions from those persons who live and work on Roosevelt Island. “If this project is to be a success, community participation is essential from the start and throughout the process,” Lapp said. A final report will be presented to the client, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, in May. This Columbia Graduate School of Architecture Urban Planning transportation initiative arose as a result of discussions with RIOC resident Board Member, Jonathan Kalkin.


Thursday, January 22, 2009 @ 7:15 @ the Good Shepherd Community Center.
RIRA Common Council Delegate and recently elected RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin is responsible for this innovative initiative to address one of Roosevelt Island's most pressing needs. Good job Jon!

UPDATE - 1/22 - Jon Kalkin provides some background on this initiative:
Almost two years ago I contacted the Dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Urban Planning and Architecture. I looked at the many problems of the island as a resident as thought it would be a great thing for any university to study. My hope is that it would be free and I would find the right team. The Dean was kind enough to refer me to Dr. Lapp, whose background, skills, and experience in both the public sector, academia and the private sector were perfect for this type of study. RIOC agreed to be the client and things have been going very smoothly.

We have a range of problems from overcrowding subways to an unreliable red bus. In addition, we have new areas of transportation like ferry service that need to be studied. We need to take the suggestions of the community, coupled with the expertise of this team, and make real changes in the way we travel.

The goal of this study is to bring light to past ideas that may work, and to bring new ideas to the board and the community. The problem in the past is there have been a lot of good common sense ideas introduced, but they haven't been tested. As a member of the operations committee, I want to see these suggestions tested and made a reality. The most important thing to remember is that Dr. Lapp has extensive ties to city government and can help us publicize this problem to not only the board, but outside agencies, and government officials. We need a concerted effort from all of them to see real change.

The red bus is one of the things that we can tackle quickly and can make a real dent in the problem. Other aspects of the transportation problem may take more time and influence outside of Roosevelt Island, but the red bus can get people to the station in a quick and more reliable manner. One idea that I have pushed is to have access for all of Roosevelt Island to the GPS antennas that are currently being installed on each of the red buses by the Octagon's management. I have fought for the idea that this is not only a great idea for the Octagon, but the rest of the island. This way you could see at the station when the next bus is arriving and where it is currently on the island. Other ideas are a possible RIOC card like we have right now, but a plastic one that holds more value than a dollar. Our current system works with these kind of cards and could help us utilize this data to see what the real ridership is. It may make us more efficient as well. Many have argued that the Octagon express is empty later in the rush period, but without a study these complaints are unheard. These are the things we need to examine. Other ideas like foot access to the bridge and subway changes are something that need to brought to the city's attention. The technology is there, the ideas are there, but we need to make them a reality. I believe this study will make that possible.
Again, great work by Mr. Kalkin but this is only the beginning. If Roosevelt Island residents truly want to improve their transportation options we need to get behind and help with this initiative as well as the Access RI study and survey.

Examples of the types of questions in the Access Roosevelt Island Survey are:

On a scale from 1 to 5 please rate your mobility.

How often do you use the red bus service on Roosevelt Island?

Where is your primary physician located?

On a scale from 1 to 5, please rate the availability of health care services to your household.

Do you have some form of health coverage? (insurance/medicare/medicaid/HMO/COBRA)

Note that these questions are part of the RI Access survey and can only be answered at their web site.


CSQTownPlanner said...

With progress of science and technology and demands for a
comfortable living the concept of town planning has attracted much attention in
today's world. Urban planners try to make effective use of land and other
resources to come up with a well planned settlement, which offers good economic
and social environment for its inhabitants.
Melbourne city planning

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