Car-Free Hours in Prospect Park? Fuhgeddaboutit!

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

The Daily News reported yesterday that, along with the recent extension of car-free hours in Central Park, Dept. of Transportation officials proposed closing Prospect Park’s Manhattan-bound East Drive to cars during evening rush hour this month but the plan was squashed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz:

Sources said city officials were poised to cut Prospect Park’s hours last week as well – but that the plans were scuttled at the last minute by Brooklyn’s own cheerleader, Borough President Marty Markowitz, who has long opposed banning cars from Prospect Park due to traffic concerns.

"It was a done deal. It was supposed to be both parks," said a source. "But Marty Markowitz blocked it."

Sources said city officials had been planning to ban cars on
Prospect Park’s East Drive in the evening so that, like Central Park,
there would be morning hours on one drive, evening hours on the other.

"Everyone signed off on it, and then, boom," said the source.

Transportation Department officials declined to comment on Markowitz’s role.

Markowitz spokeswoman Laura Sinagra said the borough president was
never given a formal proposal to sign off on but that his long-standing
position remains unchanged.

"Our historical position has been that further limiting hours would
result in unacceptable traffic backup," Markowitz said in a statement.
"The current hours are appropriate to the needs of the many in our
borough who must rely on these roads to get to work and school.

This news is disappointing. Markowitz and his staff have been increasingly vocal and helpful on "Livable Streets" issues in recent months. Granted, they still use the public plaza around Brooklyn Borough Hall as their staff parking lot, so perhaps the Prospect Park stance should not be seen as a surprise.

Photo: jcn/Flickr

  • d

    If Markowitz can be so incorrect about this issue — especially when one considers that research is available that suggests closing the park would NOT result in an increase in surrounding traffic — then what other facts is he ignoring to satisfy small, but vocal interest groups?

    When’s the next election? I will not vote for a man who is more interested in getting a Nordstrom’s in Brooklyn than in getting cars out of our parks.

  • Brooklyn

    Eastbound evening traffic on the Prospect Park Drive is otherwise known as the Williamsburg-Borough Park expressway. Let’s be clear as to where the opposition to a car-free park is coming from.

    How about 50 of us covering both traffic lanes plus the rec lane — because you know cars, like water, will seek any opening, legal or not — do 4 slow laps around the park on a Friday from 5 to 7pm? We’ll see quickly who honks the loudest and drives the most enraged.

  • parker

    Call Marty’s office to voice your displeasure:


    Or write a letter:

    Marty Markowitz
    Brooklyn Borough President
    209 Joralemon Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11201

  • JF

    Brooklyn (#2), you weren’t really being clear on where the opposition to a car-free park is coming from. By “Williamsburgh-Borough Park expressway” you mean it’s the Hasids, right?

    Did any of you actually vote for Markowitz? You knew how weak his support for livable streets was back in 2005, right?

  • Felix

    d, Markowitz is not wrong about traffic. He knows there will be no negative impact, that’s why he’s opposed to a trial ban.

  • t

    I also find it ironic that a man who once championed the “Lighten Up, Brooklyn” fitness and weight loss program — and who lost 25 pounds himself in the program’s first year — would essentially make it more difficult for people to exercise outdoors.

  • parker

    Marty’s email:

  • Gizler

    This is Marty’s last term as borough prez. He has plans to run for mayor next time around.

  • psycholist

    I regularly ride around the park and it’s such a pleasure when cars aren’t around. The irony is that the streets aren’t crowded, I ride down them on the way over. I’m not sure why people are fighting for car access. That place is a real joy on the weekends when you can see people of all ages having fun. And there’s minimal territory problems, the lycra bikers have plenty of room to fly by on the outside and peds have plenty of room on the inside with everyone else in between. It’s a shame that something that could serve as a model for usage of public space has been shot down.

  • Matt

    Marty lives on PPW and 10th street, you’d figure he’d know better

  • Mikey

    Maybe the deal is that DOT doesnt want to piss off Marty and key council people until congestion pricing is done and paid for. Hint: look at who supports pricing and opposes car-free hours in Prospect.

  • g

    Brooklyn, I think that’s a great idea. How about organizing a group of people to do a slow ride/walk around the park at precisely 7 PM on a weeknight to send a message that cars have to at least obey the rules of car-free hours?

  • EN

    #2 and #12,
    That’s called the Prospect Park Traffic Calming Ride, and there’s a certain group of lovelies that schedules them from time to time:

  • SPer

    Marty Markowitz is a foolish clown. I really cannot stand him.

  • Ace

    Sadly, I fell for what I saw as gentle buffoonery and voted for him for borough president. His support for Atlantic Yards, his arrogant parking practices and now this. Marty is a sellout.

    Actually the lycra crowd can be very intimidating to pedestrians trying to cross the main road after entering the park. There are so many of them riding in packs and going so fast that it reminds me of a dash across a highway.

  • Park user

    “…city officials had been planning to ban cars
    on Prospect Park’s East Drive in the evening…”

    Unlike Prospect Park West, with its proximity to Park Slope, East Drive runs along the side of Prospect Park that is accessed by a large number of lower-income New Yorkers who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. There are plenty of disparities between the east and west sides of the park (landscaping, trash collection, open space, safety, etc.) and one can debate the reasons for this. However, by not closing this side of the park to traffic, even for one additional hour, Marty Markowitz is sending a clear message: poor Black and Hispanic Brooklynites are less deserving of a car-free oasis than wealthy Manhattanites.

    I don’t have a car and I don’t have a summer home. Why can’t my kids have a nice place to play, too?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The Hasids clearly make up a large subgroup of the park drivers, but in the interest of multi-cultural fairness I would like to point out that there is substantial West Indian resistance to car free park as well. Both from the community and from their elected representatives. Much of that resistance comes from the same representatives who are so tight with the Dollar Van “industry”. Any traffic that gets pushed out of the park to the east effects the productivity of the dollar vans as they seek to harvest the MTA bus operating income to the applause of the Libertarians.

  • runner

    Eh. Spend some time in the park at about 7 o’clock and you’ll see all types of people driving through.

  • wheels

    Please do call his office and voice displeasure with this policy. If you call 718-802-3700 and ask to speak with someone about this policy, they’ll transfer you to a maze of people until you get someone’s voice-mail saying that she will be out of the office until August 20th.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if she had a full mailbox on her return!

  • pa

    marty is just so out of touch with issues like this. why are so many politicians out of touch with issues that streetsblog typically covers? is it their age? seriously. do we need younger politicians? i know people older than me and they are less concerned about the environment and bicycling and parking….
    i know this sounds prejudiced but many of these politicians are such careerists. they build up their platform and constituency and coast and after a while they seem pretty much outdated long before they leave politics.

  • d

    The direct number for “Constituent Services” is 718-802-3777.

    You’ll still talk to about three people before you get to your final destination, but it’s worth calling. Just be very straightforward, tell them you are calling to voice your support for an extension of car-free hours in Prospect Park, and be polite!

  • Steve

    What’s printed on Marty’s cap? I can make out the “sch” at the beggining and the “ck” at the end, but not sure what 2 characters are in the middle . . .

  • burger

    Schnack. The burger place in Red Hook. (Plus a location on 4th Avenue.)

  • Eric

    Looks to me like it says “Schmuck.”

    Marty’s base is in what he likes to call “suburban Brooklyn.” That is, any part of Brooklyn not lying within traffic-backup distance of the “Atlantic Yards” footprint. So he sees closing the park drive as something that would upset his base.

    And since he himself gets driven everywhere in Brooklyn, and parks in a public park, he doesn’t really get it.

  • mk

    Hope he gets run over crossing Grand Army Plaza

  • Park User and Park Driver

    I live near the Southern end of PP. My family and I use the Park frequently. We also drive through it. Whatever the agreed hours are – when cars are permitted in the park would the City PLEASE reopen the Third Street entrance/exit. Why are Slopes so precious that there neighborhood is “roped off”, while every other entrance/exit in PP remains open. Might I add that these are all in far less economically prosperous neighborhoods… And that Marty doesn’t live there. Seems like special treatment to me. OPEN THIRD STREET!!!!

  • John

    It seems that a large number of park users are impacted by a small number of drivers. Ending Marty’s political career will correct this – and a number of other issues.

  • Doug

    Park Driver (#26), the Third Street entrance/exit is open when cars are allowed in the park.

    This video shows the open entrance:

    I’m not quite sure where you got the idea that Third Street is closed to traffic. When the park is open to cars, so is Third Street.

  • SPer

    Park Driver — Do you REALLY need to use the Park Drives? Are a few minutes off your automobile trip worth the disrupting the peaceful enjoyment of the park by others? Honestly, how much longer would your trip take if you didn’t drive through the park? I consider people who drive through the park to be extremely selfish individuals.

  • d

    SPer hits the nail right on the head. Often we conflate an ability to do something (or permission to do something) with the need to do something. Just because you can drive through the park doesn’t mean you need to or that it’s even a good idea.

    If the park had never been open to cars, few would lament the lack of access today. If the park was simply closed, people would have to get used to it. Within a short matter of time, few people would notice the difference to their commute, most likely because driving through the park only saves them a few minutes. That’s a few minutes that comes at the expense of people who want clean, safe spaces for fun and exercise.

  • parent

    I’m a parent who lives in Windsor Terrace. School starts very soon, and my kids will get home from their after-school commitments at about 4:30. That leaves them 30 minutes of car-free time in Prospect Park. 30 minutes!!! If we wait until 7 to go there, it’s too dark. It’s a no win situation.

    I don’t want my kids riding their bikes or playing while cars are there. I also don’t want them lingering in the park as the sun sets. I’m sure I’m not the only dad with this concern. And we wonder why so many kids are obese? If there’s no safe place for them to play, what can we do?

  • SPer

    Don’t forget to call Markowitz’s office to register your thoughts on cars in Prospect Park. Very important.

  • phlg

    i saw something in the park saying it would be closed mon – fri from 5 – 7 pm. anyone know anything about this?

    – Prop. Heights Lefferts Gardens


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