Southern Brooklyn

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

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.

Comment policy


  1. My first reaction to this proposal is, whats the big deal? People put up with parades and the real marathon all the time and I think the boardwalk can withstand the additional traffic. The businesses in Coney Island are probably salivating with anticipation of a big bump in business on that day. However, there are a lot of synagogues on Ocean Parkway so it seems it would be disruptive to people who want to attend Saturday Morning services.

  2. The full marathon takes place on a Sunday. It  has run up 4th Avenue through Bay Ridge and Sunset Park for years. A number of churches. Far as I know there have been no complaints.

  3. If they restrict the run to two lanes of traffic so they can at least divert traffic to the other side and run 1 lane in each direction then that might be acceptable. Saturday traffic on Ocean Parkway is not the heaviest. Better yet, restrict the runners to the two jogging lanes, what they were originally meant for.

  4. C’mon now, like someone else said, there’s parades all the time. don’t pick on the runners…. Also, there’s McDonald Avenue, CI Avenue, Ocean Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Nostrand Avenue for North-South traffic. Gimme a break, it’s not like Brooklyn will halt with gridlock.

        As far as the boardwalk, good luck to the 15000 runners. I’ll bet at least 200 go down hard if the race hits W24-W28 street, I’ve hit the wood twice in 3 years there. And the rest of the boardwalk is no bargain either. If they don’t know to run between the nails, some are in trouble.

  5. Actually, I believe  they  should eat funnel cakes, to replenish the sugar lost from the system. The hot dogs will replenish any glass lost in the bodily system.

  6. 4th Avenue is not that significant to people in this area and closing it off does not create such an inconvenience as totally closing half of Brooklyn to the other half. Bay Ridge is not an important destination for most of Brooklyn.

    Maybe the half marathon could use 4th Avenue and Shore Road instead.

  7. Since you do not live on or near 4th Avenue you probably have little idea of how the marathon affects people in the area.  Additionally, Ocean Parkway was conceived in part with these sort of uses in mind. Bicycle events were held on Ocean Parkway in the 1890s. It’s a tradition that perhaps needs a modern revival.

  8. I have lived near 4th Avenue, on Shore Road, and the marathon’s effect was not significant. Ocean Parkway is a significant road, and these are not the 1890’s in case you haven’t noticed.

  9. do they not like how regular people invading their neighborhood point and giggle at white nondescript tennis shoes, gold pinky rings and comb overs?  

  10. I have run this half marathon many times and will again this year – we runners love the event and I think it puts a positive spotlight on Brooklyn neighborhoods that many people don’t know. I always am aware we are messing up traffic but appreciate the great experience that results. They are starting the race at 7 am so should clear streets pretty early in the day. Hopefully early notice will let people plan around it, and meanwhile, thank you for sharing your neighborhood. Not by choice, I know, but I appreciate it. And I expect so do my fellow runners.

  11. You live next to what is effectively an six lane highway (w/ two service roads!). Sorry, but the “disruption” from us runners is probably less severe than the usual crazy traffic w/ people going 100mph all day and night. 

  12.  If it was a highway one would not have to step on the brakes every 2 blocks. How great would it be to be able to get from one end of Ocean Parkway to the other at 100 MPH though?

  13. We want to be at the finish line……driving in from long island…….what is the best way…..

Comments are closed.