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Ocean Parkway bike path extension excites Long Islanders

Lengthening a path for bikers, walkers and joggers all the way to Captree State Park from Tobay Beach is an improvement as welcome as it is overdue, many Long Islanders said Wednesday as they looked at designs for the project.

“I’m a cyclist, so it’s fantastic,” said John Williams, 61, of Oak Beach.

Michael Vitti, 61, of Glen Head, the president of an advocacy group, Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists, said he had hoped to ride the path with his children when he first pressed for it years ago.

“Now I’ll be riding it with my grandchildren,” he said.

A couple of hundred people attended the Department of Transportation’s open house at Jones Beach State Park to unveil the plans.

The new 10-mile extension along Ocean Parkway will more than double the existing path from the terminus of the Ellen Farrant Bikeway along the Wantagh State Parkway to Jones Beach and then to Tobay Beach.

Plans for the $16 million stretch call for it to open by the summer of 2020; it is the third phase of the project, which began in 2013.

Motorists and people on the 10- to 13-foot-wide path will be separated by a wire car-stopping barrier, the DOT said.

The trail also will give surfers a safe way to walk along the parkway as they head to the ocean, it said.

The chief criticism of the new path might be that it is still too short, and should be extended along the Robert Moses Causeway south to the Robert Moses State Park, or north to Montauk Highway, attendees said.

“It doesn’t make sense to end it at Captree,” said Martin Buchman, who serves on the board of governors of the New York Bicycling Coalition, an advocacy group, and runs a bed-and-breakfast in Stony Brook for cyclists.

A few local residents did express other concerns, however, including a real estate broker and resident of nearby Oak Beach, Barbara McGinn.

Some members of her community are concerned about the safety of both cyclists and motorists — some of whom speed, she said.

Some neighbors also fear possibly allowing nonresidents to enter the tiny community, she said.

A DOT spokesman said the department would work with the communities and the state police should any safety concerns arise.

George Gorman, Long Island deputy director of state parks, noted the designs include features to keep motorists and bicyclists safe, in addition to the barriers.

Curves in the bike path around community entrances and exits will slow cyclists — and there will be stop signs, for example.

“I think it will be wonderful to be able to take a bike ride out on Ocean Parkway,” said Mary Demert, 51, of Gilgo, noting sometimes people now bike along Ocean Parkway despite the danger.

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