Celebrating a Car-Free Afternoon In Prospect Park

Yesterday was the first day of a car-free evening rush hour on Prospect Park’s East Drive. Car-Free Park advocates and Transportation Alternatives members manned the barricades at the Park Circle entrance, reminiscing over more than a dozen years of activism and organizing. That’s StreetFilms’ Clarence Eckerson holding the "Thank you DOT" sign above. Below, T.A.’s Noah Budnick recommends Flatbush Avenue to the driver of a Lexus SUV.


Photos: Aaron Naparstek

  • t

    If Noah hadn’t been standing there, that car would have gone right around. A flimsy plastic cone isn’t stopping anyone. The park oughth to invest in swinging gates or some sort of retractable bollards so that cars can’t sneak around.

  • steve

    Yes, t. I’m wondering whether the celebraters are the ones who put the cone and the garbage can there. Not exactly an “official” barrier. And waht’s with the blacked out portion of the sign showing the hours of access–does the srtiked out portion reflect the new closure?

    Even the french barriers with the contrete galoshes often swept down or aside from the wind. Parks Department has extensive shops in CP; can’t they fabricate a simple swinging fence as you find at other park gates?

  • t

    I agree. The current gates do not give the impression that the DOT is serious about keeping regular drivers out of the park. It’s one thing to announce new hours, but it’s another thing to actually enforce them. If the police gave out tickets to people who entered the park during car-free hours, they could easily make enough money to pay for the installation of new gates. In fact, they’d probably make enough money in about one day.

    Also, those tiny green signs with the park hours are a joke. Blacked out or not, what driver can even read those signs from within his car? We don’t need to educate pedestrians and cyclists about park hours; most of us assume that if there’s daylight outside, then the park is open.

  • I can answer that. The police move the barriers into place but they keep a car-sized space open for their own vehicles.

    As we stood there, the driver of a black jaguar with TLC license plates and black tinted windows took advantage of the opening to drive into the park illegally (and at high speed).

    After that, Noah and others rolled the trashcan into place. A few minutes later they had to roll it away to allow a police van to enter.

    The Park clearly needs a better solution.

  • Ian Turner

    The answer is pretty obvious, provided we can find funding:

  • Z

    Come on, cars go through the park all day, even beyond the DO NOT ENTER towards GAP.

  • Tautology

    You know what would help deter drivers I bet? A big ole sign that charges $500 penalty for entering the loop drive illegally.

  • mork

    Sure, just like those “No Honking $200 Fine” signs have stopped all of the honking.

  • Dave

    Perhaps unwise politically (i.e. to associate congestion pricing with ‘big-brother’ type enforcement), but could they use one of the readers that are to be used for congestion pricing at park entrances? If you enter at the wrong time, look forward to a $500 fine in the mail?

  • mork

    If these cameras are like red-light or speeding cameras, they have to be approved by the state. Good luck.

  • t

    No need for complicated technology. A big, sturdy swinging gate would work. As it stands now, the barriers are the kinds used along parade routes, meant to keep people off of streets and not cars out of parks.

    I think sometimes we look for complicated solutions to simple problems. Build a better barrier, put up better signs, give a strong show of enforcement for a short period of time, and people will stop violating the car-free hours.

  • steve

    As Aaron points out, too many cops and/or parks workers want to be able to drive in during off-hours without having to get off their ass and move a barriers. That’s the problem.


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