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Ocean Parkway Bike Path Repairs Delayed (Again!) Until <i>Spring 2023</i>

Pavement is badly cracked along parts of Ocean Parkway. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

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Strap in for another year of bumpy rides.

Repairs on the cracked and broken Ocean Parkway bike path will not start until spring 2022, at the earliest, and presumably not finish until 2023, according to the latest update from the Parks Department.

"Due to COVID-19, projects that were in the early stages of procurement were delayed, but we are moving forward and hope to begin work in the spring of 2022," said Parks Department spokesperson Anessa Hodgson.

If the repairs between Avenues R and X — which comprise only one stretch of the badly damaged and historic bike path — take as long as the Parks Department's usual timeline, the nine-block refurbishment will take between 12 and 18 months. It's a timeline that could mean at a minimum, the path isn't restored for safe use until mid-2023.

Cyclists have to be part rider and part mountain climber on Ocean Parkway. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Cyclists have to be part rider and part mountain climber on Ocean Parkway. Imagine hitting this bump at night. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Cyclists have to be part rider and part mountain climber on the Ocean Parkway greenway. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Council Member Mark Treyger, who committed a major chunk of his discretionary budget to the project in 2019, was extremely agitated to hear that cyclists and pedestrians will have to navigate the broken road for at least another year and a half.

"This is just not acceptable at this point," Treyger said. "The Parks Department really needs a major overhaul when it comes to procurement, and getting work done in a timely and more cost effective way. It should not take a decade to fix a bike path in a neighborhood."

After a decade of complaints about the cracked pathway (see this 2014 tweet or this one from 2017), the Parks Department finally agreed to act in 2019, thanks to a $1 million commitment from Treyger, and $500,000 each from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the City Council. In the fall of 2019, the Parks Department predicted it would start the project in spring, 2021, with a completion by spring, 2022. The project made it into the procurement stage in May, 2020, the Parks Department said, but that the project was delayed because of the pandemic-related pause.

The bike path was built in 1894, and is the oldest such path in all of New York City. But New Yorkers have noticed the lack of basic maintenance on Ocean Parkway makes it seem like the path hasn't been fixed since the 19th century, to the point where one recently tweeted that he rides on the street instead of the bike path.

At least one city resident has also challenged Mayor de Blasio to see the broken pavement for himself. When the mayor took the one (1) bike ride of his administration in May this year, CNN producer Channon Hodge challenged him to ride with her to her home turf of Ocean Parkway. As of press time, the mayor has yet to ride on the bike path, which Hodge said was "still bumpy" as of late September. (In November, Streetsblog confirmed that conditions are still unsafe.)

Cyclists blamed the Parks Department for the failure to keep greenways in a state of good repair.

"The Parks Department and DOT have very different approaches to maintenance," said Bike South Brooklyn co-founder Brian Hedden. "On-street bike lanes get worked into the periodic milling and paving program, even if capital projects are planned for the future. Parks doesn't seem to have anything like that at all. Once a greenway is paved, that's it, maybe for decades. If any maintenance happens at all, it's because a member of the Council used discretionary funds for it, which is what happened here. But even then, it still gets dumped into major capital projects that are constantly subject to delays.

"We need a lot more of these to bring the existing greenways back to a state of good repair, and we also need the incoming Parks administration to put a priority on regular maintenance of its infrastructure so that it doesn't get this bad again," Hedden added.

It's two more years of this cracked pavement on your bike ride. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
It'll be another year or more of this cracked pavement on Ocean Parkway. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
It's two more years of this cracked pavement on your bike ride. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

For his part, Treyger said he hoped that the Adams administration would confront whatever issues are causing long-need projects to incur endless delays.

"This is not sustainable for New York City to accommodate a growing population and growing needs. It's not funny, it's not a joke," he said. "We cannot continue this way because it's very demoralizing to constituents and to our residents. If we can't, as a city with $100-billion budget, fix a small section of a bike path, then my goodness, we're in trouble."

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