Eyes on the Street: Prospect Park Road Diet in Action

Photo: Ben Fried

As first documented by @noahbudnick, the section of the Prospect Park loop south of the lake has had new markings (and a smooth, fresh surface) for a few weeks. On this section you can experience the more spacious 24/7 accommodations for walkers, joggers, and cyclists that will soon expand to the rest of the loop. I was over there about two weeks ago and it was kind of remarkable to see everyone using the lane designated specifically for them.

According to electronic message boards stationed in the park, the rest of the loop will get new markings starting on May 11 (word is new pavement is not in the works). Now about that rush-hour car lane…

Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/waywardcourier/6973277192/sizes/z/in/photostream/##waywardcourier/Flickr##
  • Anonymous

    The roadway is a bit wider there by the lake.I don’t expect that we will get buffers between the lanes elsewhere.

  • Daphna

    I wish the whole loop of Central Park could have the same treatment!  It would help tremendously to reduce speeding if motorists had only one lane.  Currently with two lanes, that is too much capacity for the volume of vehicles. so speeding is rampant.  How can Central Park get the same road diet treatment?  (Reducing the vehicle lanes from two to one has been proposed in Central Park 72nd Street to allow a contraflow bike lane, but the vehicle lane reduction is also needed also on the 6.1 mile loop.)

  • Sure looks pretty to me.

  • Hilary

    It is functional but a visual abomination. It intrudes an expressway aesthetic into Olmsted and Vaux’s picturesque landscape. If those masters of park and road design had been available, I think they would have installed different pavements appropriate for the modes. Gilmore D. Clarke (Moses’s parkway landscape architect) would have had more aesthetic solutions as well. The parkways relied on the seams of concrete to indicate the lanes, and separated pull offs and bike paths with unobtrusive low curves, strips of green, stone blocks set in grass.  They resisted striping the roads and cluttering up the landscape with signs to the very end, knowing how it would turn their scenic parkways into ordinary highways. They were right.  (ANd what is the electronic bullletin board doing in Prospect Park?!) Where is the Art Commission? the Landmarks Preservation Commission?!

  • Danny G

    @5a471fba0c53eda855a5cc4524342ab0:disqus, It was already an expressway aesthetic with striped lanes. It has been this way for at least ten years. I would love to see different pavements, but as a taxpayer, I also know that doing so would be an expensive long-term project, especially when compared with the low cost and quick installation of what is simply paint.

    We are also experiencing a cultural shift regarding whether motor vehicles should be a part of Olmsted’s bucolic and pastoral vision at all. Just last year, a few of the Manhattan Community Boards surrounding Central Park were pushing to return it to it’s roots by banning motor vehicles from the loop road.

    Combine this short-term solution with this long-term cultural shift, and you might come to the conclusion that by the time these lanes fade away in 5 to 10 years, striping will be unnecessary because by then, the parks will be totally car-free.

    Alternatively, I’d like to see access to the park restricted to vehicles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to better suit the surrounding pre-war buildings and underlying Olmsted aesthetic.

  • Nick

    It’s unfortunate runners must use the most steeply graded portion of the road. It’s horrible for your knees/hips and a common source of injury for recreational runners. Does anyone else feel that way?

  • Now we have to get them to get rid of those traffic lights.


  • Nick http://disqus.com/guest/848d8717c976fe6acd7ef9bc20f15e9e/ ,

    This is a point I hear from runners in Central Park, who deliberately run in the designated bike lane, rather than the designated running lane, to avoid the grade near the curb. Can you post links to serious literature documenting exactly how common injuries related to running in these conditions are?

    Accepting that running on the grade near the curb is a source of at least some level of injuries, the answer to the problem clearly is getting rid of the cars.  As long as there are cars, vulnerable users must be relegated to the margins for safety, and the only safe place I can see for cycling traffic on a roadway with both cars and pedestrians is in a dedicated space between the cars and pedestrians (absent physical barriers separating modes).

  • carma

    why do i hate this picture.  that road looks so cluttered with markings.  buffers would have been better.

  • J

    This reminds me of a few fantasy drawings, where the cars are relegated to the edges of the roads, and bikes and pedestrians get the lions share of road space. It’s pretty awesome to see this actually happen in NYC. Also, I second copying this design in Central Park, and I’ve advocated this idea for years. No need to allow cars to pass each other at high speeds, which the current design allows/encourages.

  • Anonymous

    It is a vast improvement that should give meaningful lanes of travel and allow recreational runners and cyclists to enjoy the loop at prime hours of daylight without being at each other while competing for space with speeding cars in those 7AM to 9AM and 5PM to 7PM time slots immediately before or after work.
    My one complaint, other than the fact that there still IS a car lane, is that while it is great for users operating parallel to the road, it still does not provide enough crossing guidance. The wimpy 3 ft. wide shoulder at the outside, the purpose of which escapes me, should really be a fully protected walking lane, perhaps even a raised sidewalk. This would allow pedestrians wishing to get to or from the inside of the park an opportunity to walk along the road to a point where it is easier and safer to cross. A few yellow blinking light crossing locations could also be added, particularly at locations such as at the GAP and Garfield Pl. entrances. As it is, it seems that the tendency will continue to be that people will cross whenever and wherever without paying adequate attention.
    And YES! Please lose those red light traffic signals during non-car hours to blinking yellows, unless they can be converted to manual control for pedestrians to use when people actually need to cross.

  • Michael

    @wkgreen:disqus : “And YES! Please lose those red light traffic signals during non-car
    hours to blinking yellows, …”   Actually, why restrict the blinking yellow to car-free hours?  Blinking yellow has a well-identified and desired meaning also with car traffic and would the priorities in a park right.   That would also solve the problem mentioned by Parks and/or DoT that programming the lights for car-free vs car hours is impossible/expensive: i’m pretty sure switching to yellow blinking all the time is technically feasible and occurs only a one-time cost ….

  • Station44025

    Nick, Bicycles Only: Yes, running on the crown of the road is a sure fire way to get ITB pain, ankle problems, hip pain, etc..  I don’t know about research–I’m sure there is plenty–but anyone who runs can tell you that it happens.  Running around the curve of a track will do you in eventually too. 


Traffic Lights Don’t Belong on a Park Loop

Two separate crashes in which cyclists struck and killed pedestrians on the Central Park loop have garnered more media attention than any other traffic safety issue in the past two months. In addition to the inevitable reemergence of a few bikelash trolls, the collisions have led to a round of less spiteful stories that still miss […]