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Prospect Park

Survey: Prospect Park East Loop Redesign Going Over Well Enough

Park visitors are happy with the car-free painting scheme and the added pedestrian space. Only a small number responding negatively.

12:00 AM EST on December 12, 2023

Prospect Park’s new layout widened the bike lane and took out an official vehicle lane. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Survey says: Sure, why not?

A Department of Transportation poll about the new layout of Prospect Park's East Drive indicates that park visitors are happy, with the majority of people giving it a positive rating and a only a small number responding negatively.

Roughly 53 percent of respondents queried this summer gave a positive impression new design, which removed the motor vehicle lane and created two pedestrian areas surrounding a bike lane with room for fast and slow cyclists. Thirty percent were neutral on it, compared to 16 percent of park users who had negative feelings on the new layout.

Graphic: DOT

Before that part of the loop got its new paint job, the east side layout was a remnant of the days when general car traffic was still allowed in the park. In the old design, cyclists were officially hemmed between a pedestrian space on their left and a motor vehicle lane on the right. The new design reallocates space from the previous vehicle lane, giving some to cyclists and some to pedestrians. "Authorized" vehicles, which are mostly supposed to be government vehicles, are supposed to drive in the space for cyclists.

The new vision for Prospect Park. Graphic: NYC DOT

The redesign on the loop was done earlier this year at the same time as a badly needed repaving. When the city introduced the new design, it was said to be an 18-month pilot that would possibly be expanded to the west side of the park after the pilot was finished.

Since both old and new designs now exist on opposite sides of the park, the DOT was able to also ask park users if the west loop should be converted to the same design as the east side.

Survey respondents were split based on whether they were cyclists or pedestrians. Twenty-seven percent of pedestrians said they preferred the east loop design, compared to 15 percent who wanted to keep the existing design. For cyclists, it was 25 percent who preferred the old design to 21 percent who would want the same treatment as East Drive.

Graphic: DOT

Respondents who didn't like the new design or didn't prefer it both mentioned that it leads to conflicts with cars that are still in the park. This was an issue that Transportation Alternatives brought up in August when some of the group's members asked the DOT to be more aggressive in actually banning vehicles from Prospect Park via the retractable bollards, an actual policy over which city vehicles were actually allowed in the park, and a shift from trucks to e-cargo bikes for some of park's maintenance work.

The letter also asked for raised crosswalks and clear signage and stop lights telling cyclists to yield to pedestrians crossing from one side of the asphalt to another.

The DOT told Transportation Alternatives in September that it is "looking into a variety of different treatments to increase yielding rates including the some of the specific treatments that you reference in your letter." But at this point, nothing in the park has changed.

DOT said it was pleased by the feedback.

"By removing the outdated vehicle lane, this project gives greater space to people walking and biking on both sides of the park drive," said DOT spokesperson Mona Bruno. "In general, we received more positive feedback among cyclists and pedestrians, and we continue to monitor the pilot during the ongoing evaluation."

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