Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bicycles Can Now Be Stored Overnight On Roosevelt Island Bike Racks - RIOC Suspends Previous Late Night Bike Rack Ban Upon Further Review

Image Of A Southtown Bike Rack

In May 2009, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) initiated a policy banning the use of all bike racks during the hours of 2 AM - 5 AM. Any bike found at the racks would be removed by the Public Safety Department.

The idea was to open up more space for bicycles by getting rid of abandoned bikes at the racks, clear up any unsightly mess they caused and to prevent the bike racks from being used as overnight storage. After complaints were made from many bike owners including late night bicycle users, the Public Safety Department set up a system for Pre-Registering the bikes so they would not be removed during those hours.

Roosevelt Island Bicycle owners have been very unhappy with this policy from the beginning. As these two comments to Bike Sharing post explain:
The problem is that it is not allowed to park a bicycle over night anywhere in public on this island. You have to bring it into your home at night. Manhattan Park, for example, does not have a bike room in any of its building. For people like me who take the bicycle serious as commuter vehicle it is incomprehensible why this is. I use my bike every single day, rain or shine, and I am forced to bring it into my apartment at night. Who is going to clean that place? Who has the room to store 2 or 3 bicycles?

I really hope Public Safety is going to revisit this. You cannot take something away (overnight parking outside) and not offer an alternative.
I am very angry about this new policy to ban overnight bike storage, especially after reading a letter in the most recent Wire (local newspaper). The person who wrote the letter owned a bike and stored it at the rack. When he returned from vacation, his bike was gone. He inquired Public Safety and was told that all bikes were removed to enforce no overnight storage ban. Public Safety didn’t have his bike because if bikes are not claimed by owners after a short period of times, Public Safety gives them to the Thrift Store has it. The man went to the Thrift Store to find out that his bike was not there. The Thrift Store has sold it! The owner wasn’t offered any compensation!
Well, Roosevelt Island Bike owners should be happy to learn that RIOC has suspended it's Bike Rack Parking policy until further notice. From RIOC:
Please be advised that the Roosevelt Island Bicycle Rack Parking Policy has been suspended until further notice. We are carefully reviewing our current policy with the NYC Department of Transportation and Transportation Alternatives for short and long term bicycle parking solutions. We are seeking ways to discourage long term storage of unused bicycles so that bicycles actively used for recreation and transportation are given precedence.  As a commitment to sustainable forms of urban transportation, it is in the Roosevelt Island community's  best interest to encourage bicycling as a legitimate means of commuting to and from school or work, and as a recreational activity. We are reviewing bicycle parking in that context.
RIOC VP Of Operations Fernando Martinez adds:
For the present time, we are allowing bikes to be parked overnight.
More on Roosevelt Island Bike Racks here.

RIOC should be commended for revoking the overnight bike rack ban policy and seeking new solutions to the problem of abandoned bicycles.

UPDATE 3 PM - From RIOC Board Director Jonathan Kalkin:
As the new Chair of the Operations Committee, I strongly pushed for this overnight bike parking policy change. As a strong advocate of Green Projects, I believe we should be encouraging the use of bicycles on Roosevelt Island. Therefore, at our last committee meeting we requested a review of these policies and solutions to enhance the use of bicycles on Roosevelt Island. We have approved a bike sharing RFP and a bike path RFP in the coming months. Some cities have opened their parking facilities for bike overnight parking and we are reviewing this as well. There is a large area in the center of Motorgate with the broken escalator that is not being used. We have been using many transportation consultants to review the Island to make sure our policies encourage transportation alternatives.  RIOC's staff has done a great job working on this and I am really excited to see this progress.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, and now Kalkin is taking all the credit for this policy change. Right. I am very sure my complaint on this blog was the determining factor to undo the bike parking restrictions.

Now, how can we convince Manhattan Park to return the fenced off bike racks to us?