There’s No Good Reason for DOT to Let Cars Back in Prospect Park on Monday

The eight-week summer trial of a car-free park is set to end after this weekend, but no one is clamoring to make the park a rush hour driving shortcut again.

Car traffic exiting Prospect Park's East Drive at Grand Army Plaza on July 10. Photo: David Meyer
Car traffic exiting Prospect Park's East Drive at Grand Army Plaza on July 10. Photo: David Meyer

On Monday, morning rush hour traffic is set to return to the eastern leg of the Prospect Park loop, after eight weeks of car-free calm. Since July 17, all of Prospect Park has been continuously off-limits to private car traffic for the longest time in generations. Why not keep it that way?

When DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced the car-free park trial earlier this summer, she said the agency would study traffic impacts before making a decision on whether to make it permanent. Streetsblog has contacted DOT for a status update but has yet to hear back.

Whatever the traffic study may reveal, two things are already clear: Motor traffic through the park had already dwindled to a small number of cars, and there is no vocal opposition to keeping the loop car-free.

No Brooklyn Paper articles bemoaning the supposed negative impact on traffic and highlighting opposition. No Change.org petitions calling on DOT and the Parks Department to reverse their decision.

Unlike his predecessor, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams pushed for the car-free trial. Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on the city to keep the park car-free.

Decades of advocacy have revealed a strong public desire to get cars out of the park. In 2002, and again in 2008, Transportation Alternatives volunteers collected 10,000 signatures in support of a car-free Prospect Park.

In 2015, the city barred traffic from the west side of the park loop at all times, but left the east side as a traffic shortcut during the weekday morning rush, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. By the time the full car-free trial began this July, fewer than 300 motorists per hour were using it, compared to more than 1,000 people biking, walking, and jogging, according to DOT.

Let’s keep Prospect Park car-free and start making more headway on removing the threat of traffic from Central Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and other major NYC parks where motor vehicles intrude too much.

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Mayor de Blasio speaking at Grand Army Plaza this morning. Photo: David Meyer

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