Petition: Tell DOT to Reverse the Curse on Brooklyn Speedways

How fast do cars travel on Prospect Park West? Criminally fast. All the time. Members of Park Slope Neighbors clocked cars routinely exceeding the 30 mph speed limit — including one sociopath racing at 65 mph — during a ten-minute stretch earlier this month. Prospect Park West and Eighth Avenue form a one-way pair funneling drivers to and from the free East River bridges and the Prospect Expressway, a configuration that makes for hazardous conditions. Last summer a school bus driver struck and killed cyclist Jonathan Millstein on Eighth Avenue. A few weeks ago a 57-year-old pedestrian was nearly killed a couple of blocks away from the Millstein incident. Parents are afraid to walk with their children across the corridor’s dysfunctional intersections. NYPD enforcement is sorely lacking.

In addition to turning these beautiful and historic neighborhood streets into mini-highways, the current design of Prospect Park West and Eighth Avenue helps to create a never-ending bottleneck on Union Street below Grand Army Plaza. Because the avenues are one-way, virtually every motorist heading from Park Slope to Grand Army Plaza gets funneled on to Union Street.

Recent adjustments to signal timing haven’t solved the speeding problem, so the Neighbors are asking DOT to improve safety by restoring the avenues to two-way traffic flow. You can sign a petition to DOT that also calls for a two-way protected bike path on Prospect Park West and full traffic-calming on both avenues. Here’s an intriguing piece of background on the campaign:

This would actually be a "restoration" project, as 8th Avenue was

changed from two-way travel
to its current one-way northbound configuration on June 10th, 1930
by order of the NYPD — because they felt there was too much northbound traffic on
8th Avenue’s one northbound lane. Rather than switching Prospect Park West to
two-way travel (we believe it, too, was originally a two-way street, but have
been unable to find conclusive evidence to that effect) to accommodate that traffic,
they saddled Park Slope with nearly eight decades of bad road design, which is
why we’re asking DOT to "Reverse the Curse" and restore the original traffic pattern.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Rather than switching Prospect Park West to two-way travel (we believe it, too, was originally a two-way street, but have been unable to find conclusive evidence to that effect) to accommodate that traffic, they saddled Park Slope with nearly eight decades of bad road design.”

    I have a picture at home from a long time ago, though I’m not sure how long. PPW is one-way southbound, but along the park are trolley tracks in both directions in an exclusive ROW.

    What I would most like to see is a two-way “cycle track” along the park, so bicycles are not forced to travel up eight avenue or all the way around the park (and up that hill) to get to Grand Army legally.

  • Larry, a two-way Class I bike lane along the park is part of the ask — and included on the petition.

  • Good job guys! Proof, tons of proof. Of course we all know that happens 24-7-365.

  • Thanks, Clarence. I would say your work was the inspiration for the video, but I wouldn’t want to tar you with our amateurish filmmaking technique.

  • Mike

    The two-way cycle track along the park was also requested by CB6 last year, when the 9th Street bike lanes went in.

  • bill

    Fantastic, as always, Eric! Very exciting. I won’t even make any terrible puns.

  • bill

    I would nominate the 9th st bike lanes as one of the most double parked in (btwn the park and 5th ave) stretches anywhere, including Manhattan. Still a great idea, just sayin…

  • Larry Littlefield

    A second benefit of two way travel is for the bus network, which is now re-routed onto 15th Street rather than traveling on PPW as in the trolley days.

    Of course bus service is about to collapse, with the B75 eliminated and the B69 likely to follow. But what would benefit Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and points south far more than either of those routes is the extension of the B68 to GAP, allowing frequent service to the vicinity of the library/museum/etc and a connection to the also-frequent B41.

  • Geck

    I signed the petition in person on Saturday. I was stopped as I passed by on my bike near the green market. With or without a switch to two way traffic, a two way protected cycle track along the park/lane diet on PPW would be amazing.

  • Geck, that was either me or my compadre who asked for your signature. Thanks for taking the time!

  • Eric

    I live on Prospect Park West. While I’m not against the principle of a 2-way PPW, this post has glossed over the problems that a 2-way PPW would encounter at Grand Army Plaza. A northbound travel lane on PPW at Grand Army Plaza would likely need to take space from the farmer’s market space to enter the plaza, all while adding another inbound lane (or two!) to an already congested circle.

    We should be encouraging less traffic into GAP, not more, so as to give more room to the already-crowded farmer’s market. We shouldn’t support any solution that adds more cars onto the plaza and takes space away from more pedestrian uses of the plaza.

    That said, I’m very in favor of the two-way cycle track, hopefully hooking into a newly designed bike lane around the south side of GAP, coming very soon.

  • A Cyclist Against the bike lane

    I support the idea of a bike lane on PPW. But while I applaud the city in its efforts to make the use of bicylcles safer and more efficient in a place where choosing to ride can often mean risking your safety, I also think it is far too soon to be crying success here. I have personally witnessed 2 accidents (and other near accidents) on the PPW bike lane. #1: a delivery worker riding down the lane on his bicycle at night and colliding head on with another cyclist entering the lane from between cars. The delivery worker’s shoulder seemed badly injured but he refused to go to the hospital for some reason. #2: a pedestrian with a stroller walked into an oncoming bike because she was trying to clear traffic and maneouver through a narrow space between parked cars. Are these getting reported? Doubtful. I support bike lanes, but can’t support this one until you can show me how it is safer than what existed before (in 3 years of living here I never witnessed so many accidents and near accidents until the lace was installed). Too many people are supporting it without paying attention to other issues. Clearly, it is benefitting many cyclists – and I get that and can support that if I were one sided. But there are other issues that are getting lost in translation here. The city has every interest in ignoring these because of the vast amount of resources it has placed to install these lanes. And that makes it easier to view this as an issue only being presented by PPW residents. People need to take a step back and assess what we have supported and what we have lost here.


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