With little doubt, the Palace of Versailles Bike Ramp is the worst project plan RIOC has coughed up since Pataki-appointee Jerry Blue tried parking a Marriott Hotel at Roosevelt Island’s southern tip. And now RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes has claimed it as his own. Its price tag soars past its escalating dangers in stupidity.
by David Stone
List of Things Other Than the Palace of Versailles Bike Ramp You Can Buy for $15 Million
- A lavish mansion
- An expensive superyacht
- A fleet of luxury cars
- An exclusive art collection
- A private island
But that’s unfair, really, because in contrast with all the other terrible things contained in this bizarre project, even exorbitant costs come off as almost common sensical…
- Hazards for bicyclists increase dramatically with poor design elements.
- It incorporates a nonexistent Eastern Esplanade.
- A crabapple grove of five healthy trees will be destroyed.
- Only 1 in 10 New Yorkers ride bikes at any time, meaning this huge investment is of no benefit to 90% of the population. Daily ridership is even smaller.
Let’s take these one at a time.
As you can see from the above rendering, dangers for bike riders increase dramatically with the introduction of a previously absent threat. For the first time, riders are forced to cross active lanes set aside for cars.
A bicyclist arriving from Queens, for example, reaches the Palace of Versailles Bike Ramp only by crossing car and truck traffic in both directions. That never happened before.
A senior high school class could easily have done better.
The Eastern Esplanade
If President/CEO Haynes or his Team RIOC wanted to create a clear notion of its disconnection/ignorance of Roosevelt Island, they couldn’t have done better than the “Eastern Esplanade.”
There is not and never has been an Eastern Esplanade. Here, we have West and East Promenades.
The dotted yellow line with the amateurish giant bicycles is something that Team RIOC calls the “Eastern Esplanade but look closer. It tells a deeper story.
This $15 million project supports a bike line from only Motorgate to Firefighters Field. That’s less than a half-mile. And ridiculous.
Check this out.
RIOC’s own rendering shows the bike path carving out a slice of Firefighters Field, using space already lost to Southtown Building #9.
And there’s the ADA compliance problem. Project Manager Prince Shah claims there will be multiple marked crosswalks for ADA access to the promenade, but unless the bikes are at full-time coasting speed, there will not be enough braking time. Shah knows this after seeing a demonstration by a resident but made no changes.
And of course, there is an abundance of rude riders themselves. The frequent occurrence of bicyclists ignoring stop signs and crosswalks all over Roosevelt Island is well-established.
And just this week, I saw an adult male rider order a child on a scooter to get out of his way on the West Promenade. We’ve seen worse.
Destroying the Crabapple Grove
In his Death by Powerpoint presentation before the easily impressed RIOC board, Shah listed the five healthy trees as being “relocated” without saying where this brainless idea would take place.
Later, he trotted out an “expert” who claimed the trees were sick and must be taken down. That’s a lie. They aren’t. And it’s just another piece of RIOC’s degreening of Roosevelt Island.
All this for a tiny population of bicycle enthusiasts who, frankly, will often simply avoid the hazards and use the old helix as they have without serious incidents for years…
Why Has Haynes Embraced the Palace of Versailles Bike Ramp?
One clue is that the butt-kissing press release touts an event that occurred in December, four months ago. Propping up his ego requires a new “PRESIDENT & CEO SHELTON J. HAYNES…” announcement as frequently as possible, putting his name ahead of everything else including the state agency he allegedly leads. That has, so far, included mostly accomplishments for which he had no influence or involvement.
But let’s look at the values he assigns to the twin projects in the press release.
- It will “…increase… cyclists’ safety entering and traveling the island’s eastern coast.” It won’t. Quite the opposite as shown above. (And try not gagging on “eastern coast.”)
- It will “…prioritize the long-term sustainability of the island…” The Palace of Versailles Bike Ramp has no connection with sustainability.
- Haynes: “Improving our biking infrastructure along the Eastern Esplanade has the potential to be truly transformative for island travelers.” Really? How?
- Haynes also claims the ramp will “reduce carbon emissions; create safer, faster pathways for cyclists; further reduce congestion on Main Street; and improve overall rider safety, all things critical to our island’s future.” No. No. No. No. And finally, no. This nonsense doesn’t even rise to the lofty height of gobbledygook.
Roosevelt Islanders can only hope that someone with common sense charges in and kills this mess before construction starts.