re-striping Main Street: before

RIOC punts on safety every day… but really, why?


RIOC punts on safety for residents and visitors. Recent incidents expose indifference, incompetence and failures in responsibility. Public safety is a core responsibility, but RIOC flunks the test. People compete with cars and trucks in Main Street traffic, bikes run free, and RIOC’s mum on troubling construction at 851 Main Street.

RIOC punts on safety, looking the other way while pedestrians compete with traffic at 40 River Road construction sight.
Last weekend, protective fencing was dismantled at the 40 River Road construction site. No signs are posted to direct foot and wheelchair traffic, leaving pedestrians walking in the road.

RIOC assurances, the lost sidewalk at 40 River Road

“We will only issue the permit once we have all the information and all of our concerns are met, including lighting, signage and all of the other concerns you mentioned,” RIOC told the Roosevelt Island Daily on August 13th.

Manhattan Park was caught with a construction project without permits at 40 River Road. Tough talk notwithstanding, RIOC caved. Work continued, permit free. The State said it was okay because they had applied for one.

That is, they let the contractor get back to work before anyone reviewed their application. RIOC insisted there was no issue.

But what about “…lighting, signage and all of the other concerns…?”

There’s plenty of proof that RIOC punts on safety, but here, let’s look at the signs they said were a prerequisite for permit approval.

Manhattan Park never changed signs at all, neither adding new signs, correcting nor replacing old ones. Here’s what anyone — including drivers in RIOC’s vast fleet of vehicles — sees when approaching 40 River Road:

40 River Road signs direct everyone away from the temporary sidewalk bypassing construction.
A sign firmly steers pedestrians away from an alternate sidewalk at 40 River Road while under construction. There is no corresponding sign showing them where to walk safely.

That’s right. “Danger. DO NOT ENTER” is posted above an arrow pointing away from the detour sidewalk. Manhattan Park never put up a single sign pointing in the right direction, not at either end.

RIOC gave them a permit anyway, and PSD officers as well as other RIOC employees pass it every day.

Is there any surprise we’re still seeing this…?

Tuesday, September 10th, a month after RIOC pledged to make sure Manhattan Park complied with regulations, a wheelchair uses Main Street instead of the sidewalk.

That’s bad, but this is worse.

RIOC punts on safety as protections vanish…

Last weekend, the barrier protecting the sidewalk was dismantled. A cheesy ramp installed to allow wheelchairs was fully exposed to trucks and cars.

Oh, yeah, the lighting…

When The Daily reported that work on 40 River Road darkened the sidewalk, RIOC rushed over to set up emergency lighting. That was a good thing, as far as it went.

But why wasn’t Manhattan Park required to do so?

Would Manhattan Park compensate RIOC for the costs or was this a gift of public assets?

You guessed it. RIOC punted, refusing to answer, which when you think about it is an answer in itself. If you’re doing the right thing, you say so, as RIOC did, boasting about taking care of the lighting problem themselves.

But why leave Manhattan Park completely off the hook? (See related: Is RIOC Ado Annie?

One final note… Tuesday evening, just before 8:00, as I came home from an event, I saw that even RIOC’s lighting failed. It was pitch dark at 40 River Road and Main Street.

Nobody in the endless stream of RIOC cars, buses and trucks seemed to notice.

Or care.

RIOC looks away as bikes turn Roosevelt Island into Naples… or is it Saigon?

Naples and Saigon are notorious for traffic recklessness. Pedestrians risk their lives as drivers believe the laws are merely advisory, and no one acts to stop them.

That’s what we have here for bikes on Roosevelt Island. They run free, following their own rules, and PSD ignores it.

We reported on PSD’s failures two days ago. (No, it did not change anything, except maybe residents are more alert to thoughtless bikers.)

If you haven’t read the article, here are a couple of highlights:

Nearly run down by an eBike whizzing  through a stop sign and crosswalk without pausing, two residents watch him continue on in disbelief.
Barely missed by an eBike racing through the crosswalk, a woman and companion watch the rider go on in disbelief. But it’s a common occurrence here.

Proof that RIOC punts on safety…

Unperturbed, a PSD officer idles on a summer afternoon as an eBike runs the stop sign in front of Good Shepherd Plaza.

Work on a restaurant at Dayspring Church site…

Sign for site of evicted Dayspring Church at 851 Main Street.
Most recently, the address of Dayspring Church, but after Hudson Related evicted them, work is being done to build something. RIOC and Hudson Related refuse to say that it’s going to be a restaurant…

When we say, “RIOC punts on safety,” we include the future.

At a May RIOC committee meeting, Hudson president David Kramer mentioned a restaurant to replace the evicted Dayspring Church at 851 Main Street.

He said he anticipated an announcement in the next week, but one never came. That’s not surprising as Kramer has a marketing-inflected tendency to over-promise.

Remember Onda Mexican? The wine bar and café? The bakery? Hardware store…?

While that’s not remarkable, what is is RIOC’s failure to consider safety as work on the restaurant continues. It’s consistent with all the above, but it’s still disturbing.

RIOC punts on safety concerns over a narrow side road that will be forced to handle two-way traffic.
A narrow side road without sidewalks will be forced to handled two-way traffic if Hudson Related’s restaurant plans are completed.

“They (Hudson Related) are also clear that anything that impacts pedestrian or traffic flow would also need to be rectified before any enterprise is allowed to open there,” RIOC told us when confronted.

Other blather contaminated the email conversation, but this stood out. “Traffic flow” and pedestrian safety are RIOC’s responsibility, not Hudson Related’s.

Not only would this sidewalk free road, which supports foot traffic to daycare, deliveries, the waterfront and parks, host two-way traffic, the same would be true for the Octagon’s parking area.

Is RIOC awake and paying attention of simply punting on safety again?

RIOC’s mixed up on safety…

“As for Dayspring Church, they were doing minor repairs to the interior according to the property manager,” RIOC says. “No structural changes…”

But here’s what we saw…

RIOC punts on safety, oblivious to the reality of what’s going on at this work site.

Conclusion: RIOC punts on safety…

Seen enough?

Safety issues abound in spite of RIOC’s heavy staffing for public safety and investment in vehicles to ferry inactive workers around the Island.

Shaming RIOC executives serves no purpose. No matter how obvious the violation, as we’ve shown, no effective action results. There’s more dodging than seen with the shiftiest NFL running back.

If there’s hope at all, it’s that RIOC’s new board members will stiffen their spines while the remaining old-timers melt with compliance to executive will.

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