The never-ending struggle for roadway supremacy has a new front line: the two inner lanes at the McCarren Park running track.
That’s where joggers from a one-year-old running club are constantly bumping into kids, soccer players and old geezers who are simply in their way.
On warm days, the rubberized track near Lorimer and Bayard Streets, becomes a desired destination for joggers, bikers, families with strollers and dog owners looking to get a little exercise. Yet, two signs are posted on the fence of the nearby handball courts, indicating that both dogs and bicycles are prohibited on the track, while a third includes a litany of activities that are not allowed, from littering to using illegal drugs.
The runners group does not have special permits that give it hegemony over those inner two lines, let alone the track itself. So legally, the club and its neighbors must do what Brooklynites have done for generations: share the road.
Easier said than done.
During Tuesday and Thursday nights, when the athletic club uses the track for its timed exercises and wind sprints, near-accidents in the inner lanes are common. Cyclists ride on the track, dogs leap in and out of lanes, and groups of children meander unknowingly throughout the track as runners come barreling around the bend at speeds close to 15 mph.
“We’ve had multiple run-ins with dogs. Someone ran into a child,” said runner Linda Daniels, who said she even stepped in dog waste last month as she was finishing a race.
The runners want the city to install prominent signage in multiple languages to suggest that the first two lanes are for its fastest runners.
North Brooklyn Runners founder Matt Decker characterizes the request as publicizing “track etiquette,” which includes running counter clockwise and calling out “Track!” when passing a slower runner.
“We don’t want to impose on people using the track — we just want to educate people about what normal courtesy on a running track should be,” said Decker.
Parks officials are focussing on enforcement, not signage. And North Brooklyn Parks Administrator Stephanie Thayer also wants to help the running group apply for permits if it eventually hosts a large race.
Dog owners, such as Anna Drozdowska, don’t see what the big deal is. Drozdowska said she does not walk her Pomeranian and Pinscher on the track, but thinks the runners need to chill out.
“Small dogs are not disruptive,” said Drozdowska.
In the meantime, track runners will keep sprinting around strollers, dogs and slow people in order to meet their times.
“We just run where there’s a space to go through. That’s all we can do,” said North Brooklyn Runners co-founder Aja Marsh.