PROSPECT PARK – Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that Prospect Park is “now completely car-free.”
As of January 2, Prospect Park’s entire loop drive is permanently off-limits to private cars. The car-free change was originally announced in October 2017 following Prospect Park’s successful car-free trial last summer in which cars were banned from the Park’s East Drive from July 17 to September 11. The Park’s West Drive has been car-free since 2015.
Prospect Park’s East Drive had previously been open to vehicular traffic during weekday morning rush hour from 7am to 9am. During peak season, cyclists, walkers, and joggers outnumbered cars during morning rush hour by 1,000 to 300, according to the Mayor’s release. In September, the City received petitions with more than 1,000 signatures requesting a permanent car ban throughout all of the Park.
“Today, we are providing a great new year’s gift that recognizes the special place the park holds for so many other Brooklyn families,” de Blasio said in the announcement. “Now as a safe refuge that has permanently removed cars, the park can expect to see even more people enjoying walking, jogging and bicycling on its beautiful loop road.”
On Twitter it appears not everyone has heard the news that the Park is now car-free.
Good morning @bradlander! I just finished a chilly jog in prospect park and saw at least 8 cars (non-emergency, non-parks department) that didn’t get the memo about the road closure!
— Jay! (@jayackley) January 3, 2018
Another Tweet posted yesterday called out the many NYPD cars driving through the Park.
Not totally car-free: @NYPDnews continues to use @prospect_park as a shortcut, often driving unsafely through Center Dr. Want to really make park a safer refuge for all? Tell police to stop driving through just to save a couple of minutes @D00RZ0NE #bikeNYC
— David Herman (@DHermanStudio) January 2, 2018
NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) is working with NYC Parks and the Prospect Park Alliance in transitioning the Park. As the car-free hours go into effect, DOT will monitor traffic to better accommodate traffic pattern changes and will implement additional changes if necessary, according to the Mayor’s release.
During the summer’s car-free trial, DOT says traffic on alternate routes outside the park were “only marginally affected.” DOT insists “when combined with improvements to signal timing and turn lanes, any adverse effects of a car-free park on nearby streets could be minimized,” de Blasio’s release states.
Alvin Berk, the Chair of Community Board 14 told BKLYNER that it is “too soon to tell” if the park’s car ban will impact traffic on nearby streets in Prospect Park South and Flatbush. He says it was difficult to determine during last summer’s car-free trial since school was not in session and traffic was lighter, stating “it will take some time to understand the impact.”
Jeremy Laufer, the District Manager of Community Board 7 which covers Windsor Terrace, told BKLYNER that he has not received any calls yet regarding traffic problems specifically related to cars being diverted from Prospect Park, either this week or during the summer’s trial run. “Traffic will have to go somewhere,” as a result of the car ban, he said, “the question is where.”
The CB7 office will monitor the traffic in the coming months but Laufer adds he’s uncertain if any changes will be made should the neighborhood experience problems, explaining that the City failed to consult with the community board about the transition to a car-free Prospect Park. “If it works, great,” he concluded on a positive note.