Southern Brooklyn

Locals Fume Over Marathon Runners’ Plan To Swarm Ocean Parkway, Coney Island Boardwalk

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A photo of a car-less Ocean Parkway, after the 2010 Half Marathon (Source: AMRosario/Flickr)

As organizers at the New York Road Runners plan to nearly triple the number of participants in the Brooklyn Half Marathon this year, which runs down Ocean Parkway, locals are fuming over potential traffic snarls and damage to the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Sizable changes were made to the route of this year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon to accommodate as many as 15,000 runners – up from 5,921 last year. The race, scheduled to take place on May 19, takes runners down a long stretch of Ocean Parkway, ending on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island – sparking concern from residents and preservationists.

“What is the plan for Ocean Parkway? How will pedestrians be able to cross the street and how will traffic get around?” asked Allan Shweky, founder of Friends of Ocean Parkway. “The only other alternative is really the Belt Parkway.”

Friends of Ocean Parkway has been voicing opposition through its Facebook page out of concern for those who have to travel the day of the race. “We will look into the plans by the local precincts how they plan to handle the traffic issues but it doesn’t look good for those who need to travel in any direction in half of Brooklyn on that Saturday morning,” they said in a status update.

Shweky hopes he can make a break-through for residents in the area before the race takes place. He continues to reach out to community boards, and plans to speak with the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) seeking answers to traffic alternatives.

But Drea Braxmeier, a representative for New York Road Runners, said the route through Ocean Parkway is meant to be a compliment to the neighborhoods it runs through, exposing thousands of runners to borough’s diversity.

“With the runners passing Grand Army Plaza, finishing on the Boardwalk and with the staging at the Brooklyn Museum, the runners will enjoy a tour of the heart and best of Brooklyn,” said Braxmeier.

Shweky is not just concerned about drivers – he’s worried about wear-and-tear to the 89-year-old Coney Island Boardwalk where those 15,000 will congregate at the end.

But the Road Runners say that, though there’s a larger number of runners, the boardwalk stands to benefit from the route changes they’ve had to make.

“The distance the race occurs on the boardwalk is actually shorter this year than it has been in the past,” she said.

The Brooklyn Half Marathon takes place on May 19, beginning at 7:00 a.m. near the Brooklyn Museum.

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