There’s No Good Reason for DOT to Let Cars Back in Prospect Park on Monday

The eight-week summer trial of a car-free park is set to end after this weekend, but no one is clamoring to make the park a rush hour driving shortcut again.

Car traffic exiting Prospect Park's East Drive at Grand Army Plaza on July 10. Photo: David Meyer
Car traffic exiting Prospect Park's East Drive at Grand Army Plaza on July 10. Photo: David Meyer

On Monday, morning rush hour traffic is set to return to the eastern leg of the Prospect Park loop, after eight weeks of car-free calm. Since July 17, all of Prospect Park has been continuously off-limits to private car traffic for the longest time in generations. Why not keep it that way?

When DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced the car-free park trial earlier this summer, she said the agency would study traffic impacts before making a decision on whether to make it permanent. Streetsblog has contacted DOT for a status update but has yet to hear back.

Whatever the traffic study may reveal, two things are already clear: Motor traffic through the park had already dwindled to a small number of cars, and there is no vocal opposition to keeping the loop car-free.

No Brooklyn Paper articles bemoaning the supposed negative impact on traffic and highlighting opposition. No Change.org petitions calling on DOT and the Parks Department to reverse their decision.

Unlike his predecessor, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams pushed for the car-free trial. Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on the city to keep the park car-free.

Decades of advocacy have revealed a strong public desire to get cars out of the park. In 2002, and again in 2008, Transportation Alternatives volunteers collected 10,000 signatures in support of a car-free Prospect Park.

In 2015, the city barred traffic from the west side of the park loop at all times, but left the east side as a traffic shortcut during the weekday morning rush, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. By the time the full car-free trial began this July, fewer than 300 motorists per hour were using it, compared to more than 1,000 people biking, walking, and jogging, according to DOT.

Let’s keep Prospect Park car-free and start making more headway on removing the threat of traffic from Central Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and other major NYC parks where motor vehicles intrude too much.

  • Vooch

    eventually turn the paths back to pea gravel also

  • KeNYC2030

    This is a big test for DOT. Will it quietly take the final step to return Prospect Park to the use for which it was created — place of refuge apart from the city — or will it allow cars back in for no reason other than not inconveniencing a handful of motorists has traditionally been viewed as the politically safer course? I hope Adams has weighed in with the agency.

  • Jeff

    Why? I’m not a “spandex warrior” or whatever but I do enjoy doing laps in the park on my road bike for fitness. You want to punish all fitness-motivated cyclists just because you don’t like road bikers?

  • Wilfried84

    My folding bike doesn’t handle unpaved roads well . Is the park not for me either?

  • Vooch

    Pea Gravel is better for fitness cyclists. More friction equals more fitness.

    Fitness Cyclists will always support more fitness.

  • KeNYC2030

    So, we have our answer, for now anyway. The classic “study” dodge. Great quotes from Mr. Gordon.
    https://patch.com/new-york/williamsburg/s/g8748/cars-return-to-prospect-park-for-now

  • Jeff

    So you’re saying that road biking is a completely irredeemable activity and has no place in city parks? Or what? The idea that “more friction = more workout” is kind of ridiculous. By that logic everyone should just run on the beach or up stairs instead of any other cardio activity, since that would presumably burn more calories than road biking, normal running, paddling, etc.

  • Vooch

    pea gravel compacted is a great surface for cycling

  • Vooch

  • Jeff

    For the bike-equivalent of a leisurely stroll, sure. But for the type of cycling people do in the parks? With fast downhills and curves? Come on, you’re just being obtuse. This isn’t even a transportation issue, you’re just arbitrarily attacking a hobby that happens to use a similar vehicle to a mode of transportation (the bicycle).

  • Vooch

    this little lady is booking on a gravel path in a park similar to Olmsteds

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

De Blasio Gets More Cars Out of Central Park and Prospect Park

|
Starting in a few weeks, people will be able to enjoy the Central Park loop north of 72nd Street and the west side of Prospect Park year-round without having to worry about motor vehicle traffic, Mayor de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced this morning. The changes will significantly reduce motor vehicle traffic in both parks while stopping short of […]

Central Park Above 72nd Street Is Now Car-Free Forever

|
Last week, people walking and biking on the Central Park loop had to worry about taxi drivers and car commuters motoring through the park as a rush hour shortcut. This morning was different: Above 72nd Street, you could ride your bike, walk your dog, or go for a run on a safer, quieter path with a lot […]