Article has been updated to add a statement from the DOT.
Joggers on promenade next to highway in danger, pols say
Joggers, pedestrians and bike riders enjoying the Shore Parkway Greenway in Bath Beach are in danger, according to two Southwest Brooklyn lawmakers who pointed out that the absence of guardrails along the adjacent Belt Parkway leaves the waterfront footpath vulnerable to disaster.
U.S. Rep. Max Rose and Councilmember Justin Brannan held a press conference on the Shore Parkway Greenway at 17th Avenue on Thursday to demand that the New York City Department of Transportation install guardrails as soon as possible.
The Belt Parkway runs alongside the Shore Parkway Greenway for several miles along the Gravesend Bay waterfront. There are no guardrails along the section of the eastbound Belt Parkway between Exits 4 and 5 (Bay Eighth Street to Bay Parkway).
The highway and the bike-pedestrian path are separated only by patches of grass along that mile-long stretch.
With no guardrail to stop him, an out-of-control motorist could easily wander off the highway, drive onto the promenade and hit pedestrians, Rose and Brannan said.
“This is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Brannan, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bath Beach and Bensonhurst.
Bay Ridge resident Karen Tadross said she supports the effort Rose and Brannan are making. “As a frequent rider, I am terrified when I am in that section of the path. I am constantly looking over my shoulder,” she wrote on Twitter.
“God forbid there’s a terrorist attack,” Brannan said, noting the deadly incident that took place on Halloween in 2017 when a suspect drove a pickup truck on the Hudson River Park bike path in lower Manhattan, mowing down several people, killing eight and injuring two dozen others.
“Thousands of cars use the Belt Parkway every day, and with summer here, this walking and biking path will be packed with Brooklynites walking, running and riding bikes — and yet there’s literally nothing protecting them from a rogue driver or tragic accident, ” said Rose, a Democrat whose district includes several neighborhoods in Southwest Brooklyn and all of Staten Island.
Brannan said he first contacted DOT 15 months ago and found that agency officials were sympathetic to his request for guardrails.
But it is taking too long to get the guardrails designed and built, according to Brannan, who said DOT officials told him the design process won’t be complete until late 2020. That means the installation process isn’t likely to start until 2021 at the earliest.
“The city does not share our sense of urgency,” Brannan said.
Rose said he can’t understand why it’s taking so long. “We’re not building the Eiffel Tower,” he said. “The red tape is insane. All the while, people’s lives are in danger.”
Community Board 11 has been advocating for guard rails for more than two years.
“Users of the Shore Parkway Greenway are offered no protection from vehicular traffic on the Belt Parkway,” Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said in a statement in 2017.
At that time, two lawmakers, Councilmember Mark Treyger and then-Councilmember Vincent Gentile, Brannan’s predecessor, wrote a letter to DOT asking the agency to take immediate action.
A DOT spokesperson said the agency is working with Brannan, Rose and the city’s Department of Design and Construction on a guardrail project.
“DOT has been in close conversations with Councilmember Brannan regarding this matter. As discussed, DOT in partnership with NYC DDC, is working on a project that includes adding guardrails to this section of the Belt Parkway. As the project moves forward, we will continue to work with Council Member Brannan, Representative Rose, and the community,” the spokesperson told this newspaper in an email.