Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Car-Free Parks

Community Boards Step Up Opposition to Car-Free Prospect Park

Car-free park advocates deliver 10,000+ letters of support to City Hall.

Two weeks ago, the Prospect Park Youth Advocates delivered 10,000 signatures to City Hall asking for a three-month car-free trial. Now Community Boards 7 and 14, as well as a group called the Windsor Terrace Alliance, are demanding that the park remain open to traffic during the morning and evening rush.

Here's their core argument, advanced in a press release yesterday:

...if the bicyclists get their way, the City's Department of Transportation (DOT) will shift hundreds more cars per hour onto Prospect Park Southwest and Parkside Avenue, where traffic back-ups could create dangerous air quality problems for local families.

Putting aside the crude cyclist-baiting (as a pedestrian, I would also like to "get my way"), the predictions of carmaggedon are overblown. CB14 bases its projections on loop drive traffic counts from the 1990s, says Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives. In the meantime, car-free hours have increased dramatically, meaning there is much less traffic to displace than opponents acknowledge.

Then there's the question of whether the remaining traffic would shift to local streets at all. The basic assumptions behind the 11-year-old traffic study that CB14 cites have been thoroughly debunked. "We know from 40 years of experience that traffic is not like water," says Norvell. "A
lot of those trips shift to transit, to different periods of the day,
and some disappear altogether."

A car-free trial next summer could settle the debate. "We find it hard to understand why a
trial isn't worth doing at this point," adds Norvell. "This is about trying it, and seeing what happens. The fact that we've
gone from 24 hours a day, seven days a week to a few hours each workday without the sky falling shows that driving behavior
is a lot more flexible than people realize."

The Youth Advocates worked with numerous local partners in Districts 7 and 14 this summer, Norvell notes, including the Flatbush Development Corporation, Project Reach Youth, the Prospect Park Youth Council, Brooklyn College Academy, and Edward R. Murrow High School. Opponents claim that their communities have not been included in the discussion.

Photo: youthforcarfreeparks / Flickr

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

SEE IT: How Much (Or How Little) Driving is Going on in America’s Top Metros

Check it out: The lowest-mileage region isn't the one you'd think.

April 21, 2024

Justice Dept., Citing Streetsblog Reporting, Threatens to Sue NYPD Over Cops’ Sidewalk Parking

The city is now facing a major civil rights suit from the Biden Administration if it doesn't eliminate illegal parking by cops and other city workers.

April 19, 2024

What to Say When Someone Claims ‘No One Bikes or Walks in Bad Weather’

Yes, sustainable modes are more vulnerable to bad weather. But that's why we should invest more in them — not less.

April 19, 2024

NYC Transit’s New Operations Planning Chief Wants To Fight ‘Ghost Buses’

One-time transit advocate and current MTA Paratransit VP Chris Pangilinan will oversee bus and subway operations for the whole city.

April 19, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Gimme Bus Shelter Edition

The days of the Landmarks Preservation Commission reviewing every proposed bus shelter in landmarked districts may be no more. Plus more news.

April 19, 2024
See all posts