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Bronx Community Board Opposes Pelham Pkwy. Greenway Widening

The board worries a wider path will invite more motorized vehicles.

Rendering: NYC Parks|

The Parks Department proposes widening the greenway to 10 feet.

A Bronx community board rejected a city proposal to widen the narrow and deteriorating Pelham Parkway bike and pedestrian path by two feet over concerns about unauthorized motorized vehicles.

The East Bronx greenway is littered with potholes and dirt paths forged due to the lack of space, but Community Board 11 nevertheless voted in a resolution Thursday to urge the Parks Department to resurface the path at its existing size.

"If you make it two feet wider, it’s not going to make room for the existing users, it’s going to create an avenue for speeding," said Roxanne Delgado, the founder of Friends of Pelham Parkway, who has organized opposition to the city's plan.

The city's $7.3 million overhaul would repave portions on a 1.6-mile stretch between Wallace and Stillwell Avenues, adding markings to clearly divide cyclists and pedestrians, and other upgrades along the way like new furnishings at seating areas at Bronxwood and Seymour Avenues.

The path is a key connector between the Bronx Park on the west and Pelham Bay and Orchard Beach on the east. Streetsblog highlighted the path and five others in unacceptably bad condition last summer. Other local greenway boosters said it desperately needs the facelift and expansion.

"The Pelham Parkway greenway is substandard and has been substandard for a long time," said Diana Finch, a resident who regularly uses the greenway. "We deserve safe, wide greenways, just as the rest of the Bronx and the rest of New York City."

Motorized riders are likely to go even faster on the narrow stretch if it's repaved, she added.

"An eight foot smooth pathway is going to be more dangerous than a 10 foot smooth pathway," Finch said. "So if the whole point is to do this out of safety concerns for pedestrians, you’d want to make it wider."

"The path is so narrow and inadequate to the increasingly heavy use that it gets, that there are desire paths on either side. So functionally it is 10 feet wide because of the worn desire paths."

People squeeze past each other on and beside the Pelham Parkway greenway. Photo: Diana Finch

The project, slated to start construction in the summer of 2026, would bring the path up to code with state guidelines that recommend so-called shared use paths be 12 feet wide, and no narrower than 10 feet.

"We want to make it a shared use path, and that’s why 10 foot is the minimum that’s required to turn it into a safe and optimum shared use path," Rucha Mandlik, the Park Department's landscape architect contractor, said at a June 13 meeting of CB 11's Parks Committee.

The agency also plans to rebuild some of the sidewalks at street corners to make them more accessible for people with disabilities, and plans to remove 23 trees and 13 stumps, while planting 125 new trees.

"All the trees that we are going to lose, we’re going to put them back and more of them," Mandlik said.

Parks allows e-bikes and e-scooters on the paths, including those from the Department of Transportation's scooter-share program that rolled out in the borough three years ago, and has since expanded into Eastern Queens. The policy of allowing e-bikes and e-scooters is technically still a pilot, which Parks recently extended for another year.

Gas-powered mopeds or fully-fledged motorbikes are prohibited, but still routinely use the greenway. There has been an uptick in unauthorized motorized vehicles on the greenway in recent years, both proponents and critics of the Parks plan said, but they disagreed on how to address intrusion of the vehicles.

"The more space that you create, the more bicycles, the more scooters, the more motorized vehicles that you have," said CB 11 member Wendy Hewlett-Betts at the June 27 full board meeting.

The city should separately address the incursion of fast and oversized motor vehicles on parkland, rather than pare back a critical expansion, another board member said during the meeting.

"That should be a separate issue, and we need to figure out what to do about those vehicles," said Jeannette Wilson. "Not widening it two feet is not going to prevent those vehicles from being there."

Delgado, the opponent of a wider path, warned that the Parks project will also gobble up precious green space, including the replacement of trees with saplings that will take years to grow. But the grass alongside much of the greenway is already worn away due to people walking off the path, Finch noted, adding that the widening would more likely keep people off the lawn.

The Parks Department press office declined to comment on the community board's opposition, but spokesman Gregg McQueen said the agency will finalize the design by next spring.

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