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Advocates Call for Expansion of Former Road Into Bike Path to Long Island

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | August 8, 2014 2:38pm
 A portion of the Long Island Motor Parkway in Queens.
A portion of the Long Island Motor Parkway in Queens.
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Adison Koo/Motor Parkway East

QUEENS — Advocates are calling for the greenway surrounding the former Long Island Motor Parkway to be expanded to the Nassau County border to provide a recreational link between Long Island and the city, as well as giving commuters in Eastern Queens another option for getting to work.

Runners and cyclists will gather this weekend near the Queens County Farm Museum in a spot that they hope one day will be a 2-mile long greenway linking Queens to Long Island.

A portion of the former road, which dates to 1908, currently serves as a bicycle and pedestrian path between Cunningham Park and Alley Pond Park. Advocates back a plan to extend that greenway from Alley Pond Park to Little Neck Parkway, near the Nassau County border.

They hope that in the future, the proposed extension would connect to a trail for hikers and bicyclists planned by Nassau County officials along the former route of the parkway.

“If our plan gets done, and their [Nassau County] plan is funded, then you have one continuous pathway all the way from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to Bethpage, Long Island,” said Joby Jacob, 39, a biology professor from Hollis Hills.

Earlier this year, he established Motor Parkway East, a group advocating for the project, and launched a petition for the cause.

Peter Beadle, of Transportation Alternatives' Queens Activist Committee, said the project would also allow people to ride their bikes to work from Eastern Queens, including Glen Oaks and Little Neck, to subway lines such as the 7 train.

“It would provide a greenway for commuters who want to start using their bikes to either come all the way to the city or even just to reach transportation options” in the western part of Queens, he said.

The land between the greenway and Little Neck Parkway is owned by a number of state and city agencies, including the New York State Office of Mental Health, Jacob said.

This Sunday, members of several groups — including the Alley Pond Striders, Motor Parkway East and Transportation Alternatives — will cycle along the greenway and later walk along the proposed extension. 

“I want people to see how practical it is and that there is really nothing standing in the way,” Jacob said.

The bicyclists will begin the ride at 1 p.m. at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, then ride along bike lanes to Cunningham Park. 

From there, they will take the Long Island Motor Parkway to Alley Pond Park. After, the group will walk to Little Neck Parkway, stopping at the Queens County Farm Museum, the organizers said.

The Long Island Motor Parkway, which originally ran from Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma, was built in 1908 by William Kissam Vanderbilt. It was closed three decades later after the Grand Central Parkway was built nearby.

The Sunday event is free and open to the public. For more information, go here.