Brooklyn CBs Open to Prospect Park Road Diet

advocates.jpgThis summer volunteers clocked 90 percent of cars in Prospect Park exceeding the speed limit. Photo: Prospect Park Youth Advocates.

On Tuesday, Transportation Alternatives made the case for a car-free Prospect Park to the transpo committee of Brooklyn Community Board 7. Reactions ran the gamut from wholehearted support to outright opposition, reports T.A.’s Lindsey Lusher-Shute. Toward the end she unveiled a compromise — reducing vehicle lanes on the loop drive from two to one — which piqued the interest of several people and appeared capable of generating broad agreement.

As the Brooklyn Paper and Brooklyn Eagle reported, board chair Randy Peers remains skeptical of the road diet. (In October, Peers led a rally against going car-free, along with CB14 Chair Alvin Berk and Assemblyman Jim Brennan.) "Randy said he was open to the idea, but that it’s not a true compromise," Lusher-Shute told us. Peers claimed that the proposed road diet is just chipping away at park traffic and asked if the lane closure could be accompanied by an increase in the speed limit. CB14, which had earlier asked T.A. to present its ideas, made a similar suggestion linking the road diet to an extension of driving hours.

Nevertheless, the danger posed by current conditions was widely acknowledged. "Everyone agreed that there is crowding on the recreational path," said Lusher-Shute, adding that some spoke up in support of the road diet. "People seemed to think that that was a really interesting idea."

The next step toward a road diet will have to come from DOT. "If DOT wants to move on this," said Lusher-Shute, "it’s up to them now to go to the community board and talk about it. Same with CB14."

While board members told Lusher-Shute there is lingering distrust of DOT — a legacy of the Prospect Expressway, they said — their apprehension may be softening. A presentation by DOT’s plaza program earlier this year made an impression that didn’t square with the agency’s old reputation. "I had to tell [Peers] several times that yes, this was the new DOT and yes, they were making real progress," said Lusher-Shute.

  • 90% of cars exceeding the speed limit? In LA, that’s considered a sign that LADOT needs to raise the speed limit.

  • da

    Sounds like they want to “chip away” also… chip away at the speed limit, by driving faster! And chip away at the auto-free hours, by extending the driving hours! That stinks. I would not appreciate an additional car-free lane, in exchange for less car-free time overall, and faster speed limits.

  • J

    The issue here is safety. There is crowding on the rec path and excess capacity and speeding on the roadway. The only thing being chipping away is unsafe conditions.

  • Did anyone ever do an EIS evaluating the effects of allowing cars on the park drive? I’m betting not. Since the park was car-free when created, prior to the advent of the automobile, we should make sure we address the addition of cars before we get mired in an EIS weighing their ban. Maybe they shouldn’t be there in the first place?

  • andrew

    how about a toll? with the money going to the park, ambulances and asthma treatment.

  • da

    Raising the speed limit on the one remaining travel lane would decrease safety, not increase it. Extending the hours when cars are in the park in the first place would also make the park less safe.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Since the park was car-free when created, prior to the advent of the automobile, we should make sure we address the addition of cars before we get mired in an EIS weighing their ban.”

    The cars took the place of carriages. How fast did carriages go?

  • Rhywun

    Wow, this Peers guy is like a caricature of evil. What a card!

  • Why, oh why, is banning automobile traffic from a *park* controversial? Don’t they have the rest of the city roads to drive around on?

  • Ed Land

    Yeah, they did a comprehensive EIS when they paved the Prospect Park drives (originally gravel) and then when Moses widened them. Then there was all that enviro review when the Gowanus and Prospect were built and Atlantic Ave widened and the trolleys taken off the East River Bridges. Go down to the sub-sub-basement of borough hall.(Marty has a key.) There is a humidity controlled vault. The reviews are on parchment across the hall from where the past borough presidents are displayed like Lenin.

  • P Park rider

    Reducing the traffic to one lane is a good start, but absolutely no compromise should include an increase in the speed limit or more driving hours in the park.

  • i like the toll idea

  • Marty Barfowitz

    I’m not sure we should even be dealing with these CB14 people at all. In a way, TA may be giving them more credibility and power than they actually deserve.

    The “compromise” right now is between current conditions and a totally car-free park. Increasing traffic hours in the park or speed limits is ridiculous and ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. If TA were ever to agree to anything like that I’d cancel my membership immediately. Peers’ version of “compromise” entails allowing motorists to drive in an illegal and dangerous manner through the Park.

    The fact that these guys are being given a forum to put these kinds of “compromises” out there is disturbing. We’ve been making lots of progress towards a car-free park without these people. Let’s continue. They’ll never be on board.

    Peers and Berk are going the way of the trolley. They run a community board but they no longer represent an actual community. Let’s not give them more power and more of a platform than they actually merit.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The Community Board form is so distorted in Park Slope perhaps a shadow Community Board of New Urbanists could form along the same lines, maybe a group to counter the Markowitz/DeBlasio anti bridge tolls axis that is dominant in the area.

  • DB

    I am for restricting traffic going to NYC.  But not with a toll.  The Bridge was part of a deal for Brooklyn in return for uniting with Manhattan etc.

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Following up on other car-free parks news, last week Assembly Member Jim Brennan joined the chairs of Brooklyn Community Boards 7 and 14 in calling for an Environmental Impact Statement before any trial program to remove car traffic from Prospect Park. In this tipster-submitted constituent letter, Brennan rationalizes his position. Nothing says "fact-based public process" […]