Roosevelt Island — named for the president who elucidated “four freedoms” for all Americans — is poised to finally allow Citi Bike to add four stations, adding a new way for its 14,000 residents to get around, get some exercise or get off the island on the 36th Avenue bridge.
At a meeting on Thursday night, the island’s board of directors — Roosevelt Island is, officially, a fiefdom of the state, where many city rules don’t apply and even the city Department of Transportation doesn’t have hegemony over the roads — is expected to approve a preliminary agreement allowing Citi Bike’s parent company Lyft to start negotiating the terms of the island’s surrender to reality.
As first reported by the blog Roosevelt Islander, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation board will likely nitpick locations for the four docks — one will obviously serve the tramway terminus and the island’s lone subway stop — but it seems the board is, well, on board.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The island is named for him, though he never rode a Citi Bike.
Citi Bike will add to existing transportation options on the island, which currently has a shuttle bus that runs every 15 minutes — until 2:30 a.m. on weekdays. Residents who return to the island after a late night out on the town find themselves with a one-mile walk from the F-train station mid-island to apartments on the northern tip of the island. Q102 bus service to the island is very limited — and non-existent in the early morning.
Still, RIOC officials are preparing for a bikelash (one they unwittingly fostered by waiting so long to bring Citi Bike to the island, a cynic might point out).
“We [see] this as a pilot because we understood there are residents on the Island who don’t like this idea at all,” RIOC President Susan Rosenthal said at an earlier committee meeting. “There are residents who love the idea. We’re not paying for anything. The installation is such that we can get rid of half of an installation, add on to an installation, get rid of an installation…”
The Roosevelt Islander blog reported that “some residents have expressed concerns about safety issues,” yet cited not a single resident nor a single concern.
If there are “safety” issues on the island, blame drivers, who caused 19 crashes last year, injuring four pedestrians, according to city data. The crashes were clustered around the island’s massive parking lot.
RIOC spokesman Terrence McCauley said the agency does not know how many cars are registered to island residents or even how many drivers bring cars to the island on a daily basis.
Council Member Ben Kallos, whose Manhattan district includes Roosevelt Island, is a strong supporter of the Citi Bike expansion.
“Citi Bike for Roosevelt Island was one of my first campaign promises,” he told Streetsblog in a statement. “Now, the years of work to make this happen are paying off. I look forward to working … on a roll-out that makes Citi Bike an integral part of Roosevelt Island.”