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Sand trap makes for risky detour

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For Sheepshead Bay cyclists, it’s no way or the highway.

The washed-out stretch of the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach bike path has switched gears from an annoyance to a danger now that cyclists have started biking on the Belt Parkway to avoid the sandy swath.

The unpaved portion has been a sand trap since the asphalt was washed away by Hurricane Sandy, and the city has been slow-rolling the planned fix, instead posting signs on the path advising cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes over the sandy stretch.

But that’s not an option for serious cyclists, who often wear cleats — cycling shoes with grooves that clip onto a bike’s pedals and make dismounting a chore. One cyclist said cleated riders also won’t walk through the sand because of the damage it would do to their pricey specialty shoes.

“No cyclist is going to do that because it destroys them,” said Alan Cohen, who lives in Sheepshead Bay.

Cohen said he’s irked by the sign telling riders to dismount and walk their bikes over the sand, because he said it means the city is aware of the problem and forcing the responsibility of the situation onto riders.

“It was like putting salt in the wound,” said Cohen, who sometimes rides an extra three miles to avoid the sandy strip.

Cohen said that many of his fellow cyclists are opting for a shorter — but much riskier — detour.

“They will ride on the Belt Parkway itself,” he said. “It is a risk — something is going to happen.”

On a clear day, up to five cyclists may zoom by on the Belt Parkway in a 30-minute interval, some even riding against the flow of traffic.

One cyclist, who chooses instead to carry his bike across the sand, said the bike path needs renovations soon, before the inevitable happens.

“I don’t know if anyone’s been hit yet, but it’s a good chance it’ll happen soon,” said Danny Santana, a cyclist from Midwood. “Just clean it up.”

Former Councilman Lew Fidler allocated $450,000 to the Parks Department to fix the damaged bike path last summer. But a Parks Department spokeswoman said that work to repair about 450 feet of the eroded path, isn’t expected to begin until after the summer.

“We anticipate construction to begin and be completed this fall,” said Meghan Lalor, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department. In the meantime, Cohen said he hopes to see some sort of a stopgap solution — like wooden or metal plates — before then so cyclists can enjoy an uninterrupted ride without having to worry about sand or cars.

“Something temporary, so life can go on,” said Cohen. “I don’t think that is rocket science.”

Updated 12:30 pm, August 19, 2014
Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
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Reasonable discourse

Bklyn Child says:
How things have changed! In the old days, it would have been bodies dumped by the mob that were blocking the path.

Don't kids fly drones over there now?
Aug. 19, 2014, 5:13 am
NYPD from NY says:
I just ride through it, it's not that difficult if you know what you are doing.
Aug. 19, 2014, 8:48 am
Alan from Crown Heights says:
You can ride through it, but you'll get tons of sand all through your drivetrain, which is be terrible for it.
Aug. 19, 2014, 10:46 am
Janice from Marine Park says:
The path was damaged in 2009 by "Irene". "Sandy" was just insult to injury, so it's been over 5 years. Funny how certain neighborhoods seem to get variable treatment. Where is DOT, TA, Parks, etc? This is the bike equivalent of the "poor doors" in housing.
Aug. 19, 2014, 10:49 am
Paco from Cobble Hill says:
@Janice.... this has been a steady thread in the T.A. Brooklyn Committee and we've been in touch with Parks about thanks to activists Stephen Arthur who's kept them well aware of the problems. This article does point to a problem but neglects to details the severity of the damage. It is not a simple 'sweep the sand' situation at all and required the Army Corp of Engineers to come in and fix infrastructure below.
Aug. 19, 2014, 11:18 am
Rob from NY says:
How about putting some Jersey barriers to protect cyclists and walkers along the shoulder of the Belt Pkwy until the path is repaired?
Sept. 2, 2014, 12:25 pm

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