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Bigwigs stall Coney Island bike path plans

The Brooklyn Paper
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Joe Maniscalco

Bickering bureaucrats are blowing Brooklyn’s chance of creating a Venice Beach-style bike path in Coney Island.

The plan to construct a bike and skate path alongside the entire length of Riegelman Boardwalk has been lost in a sandstorm of red tape for the last six years.

“There have been some disagreements between the state and the city about what is allowed,” said Ilan Kayatsky, a spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who allocated $3.2 million for the project in 2004.

That same year, then state Assemblywoman Adele Cohen provided $1.25 million. Parks now has $5.5 million earmarked for the bike path but can’t use the cash until the state approves the project.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation believes the concrete strip, which would include paths allowing wheelchair access to the ocean, would damage the beach, according to spokesman Thomas Panzone.

The city disagrees.

“Our observation is that on the north end of the beach where this path would be located, sand does not tend to erode,” said Parks Department spokesman Philip Abramson.

Without an official bike path, cyclists are riding on the boardwalk, even though it’s prohibited after 10 am. Tony Vazquez from Sunset Park says he spends his ride dodging pedestrians and running from the cops.

“If they made a bike path, you’d be able to enjoy yourself,” he said. “You won’t have to worry about [saying] ‘Excuse me, watch your back,’” or getting a ticket.

It’s “dangerous” for cyclists to ride so close to pedestrians, said Todd Dobrin, chair of the Coney Island Friends of the Boardwalk.

“There are a lot of elderly residents on the boardwalk at all times of the day,” he said. “A bike path would definitely alleviate any possibility of collision.”

The state says it hasn’t discussed the project with Parks since 2008.

“It’s about time that [$5.5 million] is put to use,” said Wiley Norvell, spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, which had expected the first section of the bike path to be completed in 2006.

Dobrin said he’s “disappointed” that the project is on hold.

“To put an idea forward and not move forward is not acceptable,” he said.

As of now, the city says it’s still working on the project.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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