Some want to put brakes on OC bike path

January 3, 2011 3:25:36 PM PST
In Ocean City, New Jersey, they're fighting over plans to extend a bike path because the route would go through wetlands.

Ocean City's existing bike path runs from three miles from 9th Street to 36th Street and Haven Avenue.

Right now, the state Department of Transportation is doing an $87,000 federally-funded study to see if it makes sense to extend the path 1.3 miles along an old railroad bed to 49th Street.

Harry Weiss represents the Friends of the Wetlands, a group totally against the bike path in the talked about location.

"It's time to say yes to bike paths, but only in the right place," Weiss said.

Friends of the Wetlands took their demonstration to City Hall today.

"I've raised a lot of money for charity through biking, but [my] problem [concerns] the endangered species that are out in the wetlands," Friends member Sandy Lilley said.

"It provides nesting and resting habitats for a great variety of birds," Friends member Joe Lomax said.

Ocean City Business Administrator Michael Dattilo says the city supports the study and a safe citywide bike network, but isn't locked into the railroad bed sight

"We agree that there are a number of environmental factors that have to be taken into consideration and that's part of what this study will help us do," Dattilo said.

Some bike path proponents point to a three quarter mile path that opened two years ago through wetlands adjacent to Ocean City at Corson's Inlet State Park.

"It's environmentally sound, it's safe, we're saying human life along with natural life," plan supporter John Kemenosh said.

"What we're looking for is safe biking in Ocean City and a good alternative in the south end which we currently don't have," Drew Fasy, chairman of Ocean City's Council on Physical Fitness, said.

If the plan were to be approved, Ocean City would have a bike path running from one end to the other of the railroad bed. However, alternate sites are being considered and the state Department of Transportation study is expected to be finished in about 6 months.