11 October 2013

How The Government Shutdown Affects Cyclists In Brooklyn

The Federal Government shutdown is now affecting cyclists.  Well, some, anyway, in this part of the world.

The closure of Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and other sites administered by the National Parks Service has been well-publicized.  But another NPS site here in New York is also off-limits to visitors:  Floyd Bennett Field, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

When GNRA opened in 1972, it was the first national park in an urban area.  It includes a number of areas that abut the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, Queens and the northern Jersey shore.  

Floyd Bennett Field, at the southernmost part of Brooklyn, sits across Jamaica Bay from Rockaway Beach. It's about as big as LaGuardia Airport and, in fact, was the second-largest airport (after Newark) in the New York Metropolitan area until LaGuardia opened in 1937. Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart and other pioneering aviators embarked upon some of their groundbreaking flights from Floyd Bennett.  

In 1941, on the eve of the USA's entry into World War II, Floyd Bennett became a Naval air station, a role if played for three decades until larger aircraft, and easier entry for ships at more modern ports, rendered Floyd Bennett obsolete as a military aviation facility.

There has been talk of making it function as an airport again, perhaps for small private planes.  That seems unlikely, however, as the paths of its runways (which are longer than those at LaGuardia) criscross those of nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport.

I, for one, hope that Floyd Bennett never becomes an air terminal again.  Its runways make all but ideal bike lanes.  When I lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, I often pedaled down to Floyd Bennett for a pre- or apres- work ride.  I also participated in a couple of the sanctioned weekly races held every week in spring and summer--and a couple of impromptu wildcat races.

According to one website, a group of cyclists was planning such a race for this weekend.  Of course, they have to cancel, as the runways and paths will be inaccessible to them.

I am guessing that the race is not the only ride so affected by the government shutdown:  There were probably other rides (if not races) planned in other government-run sites.

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