This Might Just Be The Worst “Protected” Bike Path in the City

The Parks Department-overseen greenway from Third to Seventh avenues in Bay Ridge is classified as top-notch, but it is not.

The portion of the bike path between Sixth and Seventh avenues in Bay Ridge is overgrown. Photos by Gersh Kuntzman
The portion of the bike path between Sixth and Seventh avenues in Bay Ridge is overgrown. Photos by Gersh Kuntzman

Officially, the cycling path through Leif Ericson Park in Bay Ridge is on the map as a “protected” bike lane — so why do I feel so uncared for?

It’s probably because this bike lane is one of the worst in the city, with missing signs, missing curb cuts, potholes, bumps, garbage and directional signs that lead directly into parked cars.

bike map bay ridge 1

And it’s particularly frustrating because the Department of Transportation is in the process of reconfiguring Wakeman Place to link this Parks Department-controlled disaster to the popular Belt Parkway bike path that stretches five miles along the harbor from Owls Head Park to Bensonhurst Park.

Locals have urged us to draw attention to the conditions along the path, so here’s our groundbreaking (or ground broken!) report:

From Ridge Boulevard to Third Avenue

This one-block stretch is not technically part of the Bike New York map, but it is Parks Department land and it is used by cyclists. Although why, we have no idea…

On the Bike NYC map, the path between Third and Seventh avenues appears to be fully protected. It is not.

There’s no curb cut to allow for access, and the broken pavement is lined with garbage and, at least on Thursday, a man sleeping on a broken air conditioner. And without proper signs, it’s easy to think that the path wants cyclists to continue straight onto the Belt Parkway, which would not be a good move.

belt

Oh, and there’s another TV in the same stretch!

garbage on bike path in bay ridge

From Third Avenue to Fourth Avenue

Street markings and signs direct cyclists onto this stretch, which is maintained only slightly better. A huge bump hides in the shadows…

bump in br bike path

And just before Fourth Avenue, the bike path turns into a sidewalk, with predictable results…

Cars are often parked at the Fourth Avenue entrance to the Leif Ericsson greenway. Photo by Gersh Kuntzman
Cars are often parked at the Fourth Avenue entrance to the Leif Ericsson greenway. Photo by Gersh Kuntzman

From Fourth Avenue to Fifth Avenue

Just when you start feeling that the city’s got your back, it reminds you that it doesn’t. Midway between the two avenues, the bike path intersects with a Belt Parkway approach road. There’s no curb-cut, crosswalk or anything else to alert drivers that pedestrians and cyclists are expected to cross here.

bay ridge bike path

And there’s no “No Parking” sign to insure that cars don’t block what is mapped as a bike path but, in fairness to drivers, is not labeled as such on the street. With the cars parking along the street, the usable bike path goes from 10 feet to 10 inches wide…

When cars block the bike lane, this is how wide the path becomes. Photo by Gersh Kuntzman
When cars block the bike lane, this is how wide the path becomes. Photo by Gersh Kuntzman

From Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue

The bumpy pavement isn’t half bad, but there’s no curb cut on one side of Sixth Avenue, and no crosswalk to alert drivers to be safe.

Also, sharing what is supposedly a “protected” bike path with pedestrians is sometimes difficult…

Photo by Gersh Kuntzman
Photo by Gersh Kuntzman

From Sixth Avenue to Seventh Avenue

The pathway is so overgrown that it’s unsafe, as you can see in the lead image at the top of this story.

Plus, when you get to the end, the path ends abruptly, with parked cars and no curb cut. Perhaps it’s for the best, though: The bike path ends at the BQE service road.

When you finally get to the end, the bike path runs into a parked car and a highway service road.
When you finally get to the end, the bike path runs into a parked car and a highway service road.

An aide to Council Member Justin Brannan said the Bay Ridge Democrat is looking into constituent complaints about the path.

“If you look at the bike map, it makes it look this is a real bike lane,” said Chris McCreight. “But it’s not.”

An email to the Parks Department was not immediately answered. This story will be updated when it is.

  • Guy Ross

    If all of us riding bikes and walking each day put a huevo in their pocket each time they left the house and donated it to the windshield of the car in the worst illegal parking spot, would it have an effect beyond making the person making the donation feel better?

  • Nope, the worst is the Shore Towers Path in Astoria, to which the administrators of the Shore Towers Condominium project have illegally blocked all access since last October. It remains on the city bike maps, including the 2018 bike map, even though most of 2018 has now elapsed and the path has not been open a single day this year. There is also signage on nearby streets directing cyclists to the locked path.

    When the condos were built in the 1990s, the developer received a height variance in exchange for a restrictive declaration attached to the property creating this public bicycle and pedestrian path. Now that they have built their ugly condo tower, they have consistently tried to weasel out of their end of the deal. Even before blocking all access in October, the path was blocked by heavy metal gates which required you to dismount and drag open (even though the restrictive declaration mandates that the path be unobstructed) and “No bicycling” signs have been posted (even though the restrictive declaration specifically requires that the path be open to bicycling).

    Unfortunately the local councilman, Costa Constantinides, does not seem willing to take any action to hold Shore Towers accountable beyond sending emails asking them nicely, so I doubt that this path will ever be open again.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    I made this presentation to CM Brannan a few weeks ago and he fully agreed. He’s pushing for an overhaul to this neglected corridor. Thank you Councilmember and thank you Gersh for seeing what I saw! https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/155JUrmjUoM5s7q8lsXHnZmnxwB9mPwWzJaYjTLOu3ik

  • Tooscrapps

    Should make this post as part of a series. SB should cover the above next.

  • Tooscrapps
  • qrt145

    I like that idea! Maybe consider the East River greenway for part 3, unless it has improved considerably since the last time I used it a couple of years ago…

  • Guy Ross

    Meh. Too violent. No judgement, mind. Just for me.

  • Tooscrapps

    Tongue-in-cheek my friend!

    Ever see those stories of fire departments putting their hoses through car windows in front of hydrants, sometimes unnecessarily? I’m sure that messaged was received.

  • MatthewEH

    Well, the reconstruction of the stairway (into a fully bikeable & ADA compliant ramp) that leads up to Carl Schurz park from the East 70s finally wrapped about 6 months ago. That’s a marked improvement.

    But now there’s a sinkhole between the 89th Street & 96th Street access points that’s closed the path entirely in that area, to be fixed “in the Winter of 2019” according to the signage there. Two steps forward one step back.

  • Anyone but Obama

    You forgot one thing, IT’S NOT USED. Hardly anyone uses that bike path and not because there’s anything wrong with it, because it isn’t useful to anyone. Sometimes the morons who rule put bike paths where they don’t belong.,

  • Andrew

    Of course it’s not used. It’s unusable.

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