PROSPECT PARK – Yesterday, Prospect Park opened its streets back up to cars after a summer ban on motor vehicles that lasted two months.
The ban, which started July 17, closed a window in which cars were allowed to use the East Drive on weekdays between 7:00 and 9:00 am.
The pilot for a ban on cars was implemented during the summer, because East Drive usage is at a low of 300 cars per hour, down from 400 in the fall, according to the DOT. By comparison, more than 1,000 cyclists, joggers and pedestrians use the drive in a peak hour.
The closure is seen as a pilot program to assess the ongoing presence of cars in Prospect Park for the future.
“We are analyzing data collected from the pilot during those low-volume months, and we will collect additional data with the Drive reopened in order to make future determinations about vehicles on the East Drive,” said the DOT, commenting on the “well-received” pilot.
Many local politicians, residents, and stakeholders are in support of closing the East Drive to cars permanently, with some—like Council Member Brad Lander—taking to Twitter to share their impressions:
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) September 11, 2017
In 2015, Mayor De Blasio announced the closure of West Drive in the park to afternoon traffic. That decision was made after a petition was circulated calling for the change, and both Brooklyn citizens and city lawmakers made their voices heard.
The petition made the point that “these roads are closed for 158 out of 168 hours a week” and asked to “end this confusing and dangerous situation and let our parks be parks and not shortcuts.”
That same logic can be applied to East Drive.
The city has committed to the Vision Zero initiative, a multi-year plan to reduce traffic fatalities. Reductions in Prospect Park traffic help increase cyclist and pedestrian safety in the park, which works towards that goal.
A permanent ban on cars from the East Drive seems like a distinct possibility—local advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has circled a petition to do just that, garnering more than 1,000 signatures so far.
Did you enjoy the quieter, car-free park this summer? Or are you excited to beat traffic on the East Drive in your car once again? Let us know how you feel in the comments!