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Car-Free Parks

Brooklyn CBs Open to Prospect Park Road Diet

11:46 AM EST on December 5, 2008

advocates.jpgThis summer volunteers clocked 90 percent of cars in Prospect Park exceeding the speed limit. Photo: Prospect Park Youth Advocates.

On Tuesday, Transportation Alternatives made the case for a car-free Prospect Park to the transpo committee of Brooklyn Community Board 7. Reactions ran the gamut from wholehearted support to outright opposition, reports T.A.'s Lindsey Lusher-Shute. Toward the end she unveiled a compromise -- reducing vehicle lanes on the loop drive from two to one -- which piqued the interest of several people and appeared capable of generating broad agreement.

As the Brooklyn Paper and Brooklyn Eagle reported, board chair Randy Peers remains skeptical of the road diet. (In October, Peers led a rally against going car-free, along with CB14 Chair Alvin Berk and Assemblyman Jim Brennan.) "Randy said he was open to the idea, but that it's not a true compromise," Lusher-Shute told us. Peers claimed that the proposed road diet is just chipping away at park traffic and asked if the lane closure could be accompanied by an increase in the speed limit. CB14, which had earlier asked T.A. to present its ideas, made a similar suggestion linking the road diet to an extension of driving hours.

Nevertheless, the danger posed by current conditions was widely acknowledged. "Everyone agreed that there is crowding on the recreational path," said Lusher-Shute, adding that some spoke up in support of the road diet. "People seemed to think that that was a really interesting idea."

The next step toward a road diet will have to come from DOT. "If DOT wants to move on this," said Lusher-Shute, "it's up to them now to go to the community board and talk about it. Same with CB14."

While board members told Lusher-Shute there is lingering distrust of DOT -- a legacy of the Prospect Expressway, they said -- their apprehension may be softening. A presentation by DOT's plaza program earlier this year made an impression that didn't square with the agency's old reputation. "I had to tell [Peers] several times that yes, this was the new DOT and yes, they were making real progress," said Lusher-Shute.

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