A Bay Ridge man who walks with a cane is running out of patience with the New York City Marathon, and is demanding the racers avoid his neighborhood entirely so that Ridgites can get one more enjoyably fall day a calendar that has too few of them to begin with.
Mike Byrne, who lives on 81st Street between Third and Fourth avenues, is collecting signatures on a petition to block the world’s most-important long-distance running event from traipsing through Bay Ridge, insisting that there are better routes that would be less intrusive to residents.
“This thing just sucks the life out of people,” said Byrne as he walked his dog. “You can’t do anything that day. You can’t get out of this neighborhood.”
Byrne says it would be better for everyone — especially Ridgites — if racers stayed on the Gowanus Expressway after leaving the Verazzano Narrows Bridge, then exited at 65th Street, where they could hang a left and head toward Fourth Avenue, where they would resume the normal route.
Crazy? Some of his neighbors don’t think so.
“The parking is bad enough as it is,” said Stella Nicolosi, who lives in Byrne’s building. “The traffic [during the marathon] creates too much congestion.”
But chances of the New York City Roadrunners, which sponsor the race, changing the route are slim. In fact, the group is considering expanding the race to two days, according to the Daily News.
Of course, that doesn’t sit well with Byrne, whose petition also demands organizers keep the race to one day.
“I’ll hang piano wire [to trip runners] before I let the marathon go on for two days,” said Byrne, who’s wife volunteers to hand out water to runners each year.
Presently on Marathon day, Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge is closed from 82nd to Third streets, as well as parts of 74th, 92nd and 95th streets. Traffic over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island, a neighboring borough, is closed in two sections from midnight to 3 pm, and from 7 am to 3 pm, wreaking havoc on traffic in the Ridge.
The annual event drew 47,000 runners this year in a 26.2 mile race that is usually won by someone from a foreign country.
Byrne said that if the race organizers don’t go for his highway plan, an alternative route could have runners pass through Dyker Beach Golf Course and onto 13th Avenue through Dyker Heights to 65the Street.
Changes to the race’s course do happen: this year runners trotted down 74th Street in the Ridge for the first time to make up for yardage lost on the Rock, — one of the course changes that has been implemented since the current incarnation of the race began in 1976.
Of course, not everyone is on board with the course change.
“I thnk he’s being selfish,” said Bob Cassara, a bicycling advocate who said he liked to watch the marathon with his kids. “It would make us an outlier among all the neighborhoods. If you cant find a parking space or it disrupts your routine, go out of town for the weekend.”