Can Roosevelt Island bike safety get even worse? And now, a look back…

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Roosevelt Island bike safety worsens as Public Safety takes a see no evil attitude toward all violations.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island Daily News

Roosevelt Island bike safety worsens as PSD officer relaxes curbside while a rider pedals through, less than 100 feet away.
On Thursday, PSD officer relaxes less than 100 feet away as a bicyclist rides straight through a stop sign and crosswalk, only 100 feet away.

After what we’ve reported, you might think Roosevelt Island Bike Safety couldn’t get worse, but it has.

“Acting Commissioner Kevin Brown has already directed his officers to pay special attention to this matter and they will continue to do so,” a RIOC spokesperson emailed in response to our story, Bicycle Safety…? What Bicycle Safety?

The message didn’t get through.

Five days later, I took a walk on Main Street, from Pony Field to Good Shepherd Plaza.

Bike rider seconds after running a stop sign in broad daylight.
Within five minutes, I watched two e-Bike riders run the stop sign at 40 River Road.

It didn’t take long to see the results of that “special attention.”

I watched two bike riders run the stop sign at 40 River Road in the short time it took to walk between there and the Gardens.

I snapped a photo of the second rider. See above.

Proliferation of e-bikes…

“PSD is also particularly concerned over the proliferation of e-bikes throughout the city in general and on Roosevelt Island in particular,” RIOC’s spokesperson wrote. But not enough to do much about them.

Okay. So, maybe it was just an unlucky coincidence. And to be fair, I ignored the bicycle I thought I saw cruising down the sidewalk across from Gristedes.

But I couldn’t ignore what I saw a few minutes later.

At the busiest crosswalk on Main Street, a bicycle rider rolled straight through the stop sign, oblivious to the wheelchair entering from his right. It gets worse.

Look closer at the first photo above. A PSD officer, in uniform, relaxes at the curb, less than 100 feet behind him.

There are two takeaways.

  • PSD is doing next to nothing to enforce bike safety.
  • The bicyclists all know it.

How Roosevelt Island Bike Safety Worsens

Concerns about Roosevelt Island bike safety multiply when, days after lapses were exposed and management promised better, nothing changed.

“The department (PSD) is committed to making sure the Island is safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike,” RIOC said, but words are cheap. And getting cheaper.

Bike rider seconds after running a stop sign with a PSD cruiser following and doing nothing.
This bike rider got an escort, running the stop sign with PSD tailing right behind her. Nothing happened, not even a warning.

Could it get worse? Sure it could.

Walking back, I watched a bicyclist (above) glide straight through the intersection at Main Street and River Road, a PSD vehicle following behind her.

Both went on their way as if nothing happened.

In contrast, I didn’t see a single bike rider, pedal or electric powered, stop for a sign or a pedestrian, not even once.

Why have bike safety rules at all?

Logic tells us that traffic laws exist for a reason. They control bikes, cars and pedestrians to promote safety.

What’s the message when the majority of bicycle riders are given a pass on the rules? Public Safety officers don’t just look the other way. They look right at it and do nothing.

Couple this with another factor pointed out by reader Rose Klein. Bicycle riders often go without helmets, if Roosevelt Island is any example.

How long before carelessness results in a serious head injury or death? It happened once on Roosevelt Island already, and that was before the big increase in two-wheelers on Main Street.


I thought I was done with this article when I left the retirement celebration for Chief Jack McManus on Thursday evening. Leaving the Manhattan Park Theatre Club, I saw a pair of teens race down the bridge helix and straight into traffic as if the stop sign and crosswalk weren’t there at all.

We have no bicycle safety signs anywhere on Roosevelt Island. We have no safety and no enforcement, not even warnings for blatant violations.

Roosevelt Island bike safety is a classic oxymoron.

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