Carelessness, Negligence and Indifference to Neighbors Make an Ugly Cocktail

Wheelchairs, Stroller Moms - Manhattan Park Forces Everyone Into the Street. Again.

Updated 9 weeks ago David Stone
A fence pulled into sludge blocks anyone from using the only sidewalk on either side of Main Street.
A fence pulled into sludge blocks anyone from using the only sidewalk on either side of Main Street.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

It was past noon when I saw that Manhattan Park was at it again, blocking pedestrian and wheelchair access from the sidewalk at 40 River Road. But this is hardly the first time they've forced people into the street, and there's the troubling question of why PSD, with marked cars driving by the area all the time, did nothing about it. Again.

The area blocked off foot, wheelchair and stroller mom traffic from the 40 River Road intersection with Main Street to Jack McManus Field. There is no curb cut for wheel chairs until you reach the driveway past the restrooms, meaning wheelchairs are forced into traffic nearly the length of a football field.

It's made more significant because the sidewalk on the opposite side of Main ends at Motorgate. Everyone traveling in any direction north of 40 River Road shares a street with cars, trucks and buses.

After dark, too. It's a traffic death waiting to happen.

In the minute or two it took to walk through, I saw a woman pushing a stroller turned back into the street by the fence put in place to block the sidewalk, without warning, and two others walking in the road. 

On a recent Saturday night, I watched a wheelchair trail a car down this stretch after dark. Wheelchairs don't have brake lights or reflectors. The car he was following? A marked PSD vehicle, it's driver oblivious to the hazards, an experience all too common with RIOC's safety force.

Tracks in the mud tell the story of wheelchairs and/or strollers trying to pass, forced to back up into the road. Even a dog got stuck, and there's no telling what the muck got into his paws and fur.
Tracks in the mud tell the story of wheelchairs and/or strollers trying to pass, forced to back up into the road. Even a dog got stuck, and there's no telling what the muck got into his paws and fur.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

The situation appears to have been caused by City Department of Environmental Protection work that sent sludge down the gutter overnight. It pooled at the now closed entrance to 40 River Road. Who knows what genius dragged a section of fencing into the sludge to block the only sidewalk?

A better question is, why didn't Manhattan Park, RIOC or PSD do something about it before being notified, hours later? How long would people be sent into active traffic otherwise?

Nothing excuses Manhattan Park's failure to fix a hazard for which they've been taken to task multiple times. When construction at 40 River Road closed the only sidewalk in the area, back in June, they had to be hassled by The Daily as well as RIOC before minimal handicapped and pedestrian accommodations were installed. But that was only a shabby wooden ramp and temporary fencing.

RIOC provided emergency lighting because Manhattan Park failed to do it. 

But the negligence doesn't stop there.

RIOC's Public Safety Department's been alerted to Manhattan Park's carelessness multiple times in the past but does nothing without being prompted. Marked PSD vehicle pass the area routinely, all day long. So do Red Buses which swerve around the site that used to be a stop.

Other RIOC personnel, working in grounds and buildings maintenance can be seen driving by regularly. 

Why wasn't anyone paying attention?

"We have informed the building manager about the situation and told them that it must be addressed immediately," answered RIOC public information officer Terrence McCauley. "PSD is aware of the situation and will make sure the area is safe for pedestrian and vehicular traffic."

That doesn't explain why PSD and RIOC in general ignored a blatant hazard visible along Main Street. I asked but, typically, no answer was given.

McCauley added, "Our residents have always played an important role in reporting problems whenever they see them. That is why we constantly encourage them to report these kinds of issues via the Tikkit platform https://rioc.tikkit.us/login or to call PSD directly at 212-832-4545."

Two men walk in the road after sidewalk is blocked. In the other direction, a woman was pushing a child in a stroller in traffic.
Two men walk in the road after sidewalk is blocked. In the other direction, a woman was pushing a child in a stroller in traffic.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Ongoing circumstances dictate that's wise advice. If you imagine that PSD or RIOC bus drivers and other personnel are going to notice and take action, you're probably wrong, no matter how many red and PSD marked vehicles you see.

If you want a safe neighborhood, if you care about your neighbors, you'll have to do it yourself.

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