Car-free parks bill won't target Prospect Park
by Daniel Bush
Apr 29, 2011 | 4182 views | 7 7 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A proposed car-free parks bill won't include Prospect Park after all.

The legislation- introduced in March by Councilwoman Gail Brewer- aimed to ban cars from using the loop drives in Central Park and Prospect Park. But fierce opposition from Brooklyn motorists and officials led Brewer to quietly drop the borough's prime park from the plan.

“I'm going to focus on Central Park,” said Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side.

Brewer pinned the reason for the reversal on the ongoing battle over the bike lane on Prospect Park West, which she said threw a wrench into any hopes of tackling another hot-button transportation issue.

“It's very controversial because of the bike lane,” she said.

Even so the idea of a car-free Prospect Park was just as volatile.

Park advocates supported the measure, a pet project that is bandied about every few years despite what insiders say are its very low chances of approval by the City Council.

“We don't want highways driving through our” parks said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, which gathered 100,000 signatures for a car-free park.

The park's Park Drive is open on weekdays from 7 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.

Critics said eliminating the short cut from Kensington and Borough Park in Community Board Seven and other areas to Grand Army Plaza would lead to traffic jams on neighborhood side streets.

“A traffic study should be done prior to any changes to see what impact it would have on surrounding communities,” said CB7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer.

“There were many board members who were not happy that someone from outside of the community was proposing the change,” he added.

The bill, which is in committee, was opposed by Councilman Brad Lander, who represents neighborhoods to the west and south of the park.

Brewer said it raised important issues.

“Just having a discussion is a good start,” she said.

Comments
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wkgreen
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May 03, 2011
The hours that the park is available to cars are difficult for cyclists, particularly in the Spring and Fall, at least for those with a day job. The car hours are prime times for exercising before or after work during hours of daylight.

Cycling during car hours can be particularly treacherous when the side lanes become over crowded, especially when there are obstructions or puddles at the curb as there frequently is. Runners, walkers, and skaters often squeeze cyclists out of the bike lane and into speeding traffic.

Really, this is about the worst time to have cars. If the hours can't be eliminated, how about reducing them to one hour each, morning and evening at least?
JohnJohnJohn
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May 03, 2011
If Paul Steely White doesn't want highways cutting through our parks, perhaps he should deploy his forbidable resources to curb dangerous cycling in Central Park - NYC's most prominent green space. Instead, his organization fights against ticketing of dangerous cyclists! Hypocricy at its finest.
pp bike signage
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May 03, 2011
What PP really needs, until cars are banned, is lane striping that makes sense. The "bike lane" may only be used by bikes 20 hours a week, when cars are in the park. But people bike in it all the time because it's marked for bikes, and the signs with the hours of use are few and hard to see.

The road lanes should be marked for bikes, maybe using the shared lane signage. This would make the park safer even when there are cars there and bikes use the bike lane.

And then the instructional signs need to be bigger or painted on the road.
Eric McClure
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May 03, 2011
Why not run a three-month trial during the summer. If it causes the problems critics contend, then the idea can be sent back to the drawing board. There's no better traffic study then seeing how it would work in the real world.
Stevealos
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May 03, 2011
Thanks, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes! Your pernicious lawsuit has scared Brewer into submission. Louise Hainline, Iris Weinshall ought to be ashamed of themselves. If they really want the bike lane moved inside the park, they ought to support getting cars out of the park.
jooltman
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April 30, 2011
I would like our local councilmembers Lander and Levin to step up where Brewer has abandoned Brooklyn. For all the reasons Central Park should be car-free all the time, so too should Prospect Park. What are we in Brooklyn -- chopped liver?
Chicken Underwear
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April 30, 2011
This is sad news. Imagine if there were no cars permitted in Prospect Park and there was a proposal to make it a shortcut for cars during rush hour.