Main Street's a Little Safer

Thank You, RIOC. Mission Accomplished

Updated 31 weeks ago David Stone
Thank You, RIOC. Mission Accomplished
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Three months ago, we wrote a story about Red Bus drivers consistently running stop signs. The evidence was there. RIOC said they'd do better. We went back for a second look.

Ignoring laws protecting public safety got so routine with Red Bus drivers and stop signs that getting video and photographic evidence was about as difficult as falling off a log. When I was ready to write the story, I didn't have to knock myself out or waste an hour to catch a violation.

I set up along a sidewalk, and the first bus, as I knew it would, coasted straight through a nearby stop sign. Experience told me, it'd be the same with the next. And the next.

The next Red Bus I rode, my smart phone ready, our driver drove straight through the first stop sign, giving us an inside look. I put my camera away and watched that driver ignore six more stop signs before we got to the Tram.

Thank You, RIOC. Mission Accomplished

Later, readers piled on, pointing out frequently ignored stop signs and other violations that nobody else seemed to care about.

I wasn't cherry picking, and for that reason, I avoided telling RIOC who the specific drivers were. They were almost all, to some extent, doing it. It reflected as badly on Public Safety, which should've put a stop to it before we reported it, as it did on the drivers.

So, why let one be a scapegoat?

"Following all traffic laws and stops is, and should be, the most important job of all our Red Bus drivers and other employees driving RIOC vehicles across the Island," said Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson after we sent his boss, Susan Rosenthal, our pictures.

No objection there, but would anything really change?

Not immediately.

But I'd decided to give RIOC three months to a) straighten out its drivers as well as Public Safety officers and b) to see if the corrections stuck.

I'm happy to say, spot checks prove that RIOC did what it said it would.

Oh, you still get an outlier who sweeps past a stop sign, maybe one out of ten, ignores pedestrians in a crosswalk, or mindlessly skips a pickup and drop off location, but that's no worse than the average driver and maybe even better. It may be the result of inevitable fatigue after repeating the same route a hundred times.

If we assume that stop signs are put in specific locations, near a park, a busy crosswalk, etc., as we and RIOC's employees should, then we have to assume that avoiding accidents, especially involving unprotected pedestrians, are the reason.

That makes it critical that our own drivers set an example. Roosevelt Island's a super safe place to live, but we've had one a Red Bus fatality already. With this change, that's become less likely to repeat. 

We're diligent about keeping an eye on public officials. It's part of the job, and consistent with that, we need to report when good efforts yield effective results.

They have.

Thank you, Susan Rosenthal and company. We noticed.


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