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Automobiles, Bikes and Pedestrians: Sharing Prospect Park’s Drives

At the Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force meeting on Wednesday, community members said bicyclists in the park are out of control and cars should not be allowed on the drives.

Pedestrians and bicyclists, blaming each other for the unsafe conditions on the park’s drives, filled the Picnic House with rancor and passion during the Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force meeting Wednesday night.

The meeting came two weeks after the most recent accident on November 3, on West Drive, near the Vanderbilt Playground, and the woman, Linda Cohen, was in a medically-induced coma until Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, to help alert drivers and bicyclists of the pedestrian crosswalk near Wellhouse Drive and reduce speed. The changes include a new “highly visible” crosswalk and narrowing the two-lane road to one lane with orange traffic barrels near the the area Cohen was struck.

The task force’s second meeting featured an open public forum for community members to suggest solutions in order to increase safety for all park users and prevent and reduce accidents on the park’s roads. The West Drive is open to motorists Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and the East Drive is open from 7 to 9 a.m.

The meeting’s ultimate goal is to create a symbiotic relationship between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. But that proved to be not an easy task, for pedestrians and cyclists pitted against each other about who is to blame for the unsafe road sharing conditions. However, both groups agreed that cars should be banned from the park. 

Florence Weintraub, 74, said cyclists should be banned too.

“If I had to prioritize, I would eliminate bikes in the park,” she said as the cyclists in the crowd roared with disapproval. “I know that is not possible, but bikers master the entire road, they are all over the place and there is no safe room for pedestrians, strollers and runners. The bikers are crazy and it is unsafe for people who walk.”

She suggested that there be a strictly enforced speed limit for bicyclists, that cars should not be allowed on the drives and that the road be split in two, one side for pedestrians and runners and the other for bikers.

But Claire Fogle, who bikes in Prospect Park, said cyclists are not the only ones who need to be regulated and educated about the rules of the road.

“As a biker in the park, so many times people cross any where they like. We need to educate people on how to cross and use the road,” she said. “It is just as important as educating bikers.”

Although the community members all agreed that cars are the number one culprit, the pressing issue at hand is how bicyclists have been hitting pedestrians, recently causing serious injury to three pedestrians.

Forrest Cicogni, who’s wife, Dana Jacks, was hit by a biker on June 11 and suffered brain damage, said there is an extreme lack of regulation for cyclists who break the law while riding on the drives.

“Enforcement is paramount. People cross the drives because there’s no place to cross,” he said, who’s wife was in the hospital after the accident for 25 days. “It is a game of ‘Frogger.’ Just like we don’t let cars to race in the park, we shouldn’t let bikers.”

Henry Astor, a father of three boys and a triathlon athlete who speed races in the park at 5:30 a.m. everyday, agreed that many bikers are a grave danger to walkers.

“I am enraged that serious cyclists threaten my kids and yell at them,” Astor said, explaining his children, who are 8, 4 and 2 years old, have been pushed in front of runners multiple times by racing bikers.

“Just because you wear spandex and shave your legs doesn’t mean you are a serious cyclist,” he said. “They are totally out of control.”

Astor suggested that there be an early morning speed racing hour and that after that bikers need to slow down.

Linda Cohen’s friend, Nancy Moccaldi, said it doesn’t matter how careful someone is while crossing the road, the bottom line is that the park is dangerous for pedestrians.

“Linda walks five miles in the park everyday, she knows it intimately,” Moccaldi said while tears rolled from her eyes, crying for her friend is in the hospital with a fractured skull and coccyx. “She knows where to walk, how to be safe, but she still got slammed by a bike.”

One of the last voices in the forum dissected the issue, which is that bikers have been hitting pedestrians, causing serious injury and there is no enforcement. 

“The number one issue here is public safety, the public needs to feel safe and clearly the public does not feel safe. Bicycles are vehicles and they need to act accordingly,” Geoffrey Croft said, who is the founder of New York City Park Advocates and writes the blog, A Walk in the Park.

He also suggested that there has to be a speed limit for bikers, a lower speed limit for cars, which is 25 mph, enforce the laws and educate the pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.

“People need to realize that [the drives] are not a velodrome,” he said. “It’s a park with many different users.”

Kevin Beers November 22, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Sally P who did you see post here who was against getting cars out of the park. Go back through thankless and tell me where you see that. I called for it in at least one post. At 1:17 on Sunday thebproblem is that had cars been banned from the park it would not have prevented the accident discussed inches article. There were no cars in the park at the time. What I have been addressing is the fact that it was a biker that hit the pedestrian and that thebpodtings here are ignoring that and distracting from that issue. Two pedestrians have been gravely injured by bikers recently and I would like to see that addressed so that we don't have another. And that will only happen when safer biking behavior is imposed. It seems that only by going after bad biker behavior will the problem be fixed.
mw November 22, 2011 at 10:15 PM
my grandmother would defend having cars in the park. it's difficult for her to get to certain areas due to her age/physical limitations. but i think the point of many of the comments is that the anti-car faction seems to be hijacking the conversation, as bikers have proven to be spectacularly unsafe for park users.
Kevin Beers November 22, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Sorry for the typos That should be- go back through the posts and tell me. Also- it was a biker who hit a pedestrian and that the postings are ignoring. Damn iPhone.
Kevin Beers November 22, 2011 at 10:18 PM
MV you put it better than I did. Thank you.
Kevin Beers November 22, 2011 at 10:23 PM
Sally P I just went through the posts and didn't see one post that defended having cars in the park. Not one. But as mv says the anti car comments have hijacked the discussion from the issue of bikes hitting pedestrians cans I don't think it makes me anti bike to be concerned about that and looking for a remedy ro a serious issue.
Sally P. November 22, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Well I don't think anyone ought to hijack the discussion and it seems like the anti bike and anti car people are guilty of that equally. why can't we all agree that you have to stop cars from coming into the park and you also have to slow down racing cyclists especially coming down that big hill? i was at the open house at the picnic house and no one there was all that upset when everybody there agreed that cars were a big problem, too. everyone just needs to have more respect for each other and use common sense. common sense says cars don't belong in a park. common sense says you can use your bike for exercise in the park, but probably shouldn't be riding in packs of 20 people at 25 miles per hour. common sense says don't stick your nose in your iphone while you are crossing the drive. common sense says be nice to other people and don't yell. common sense says that some people who bike also jog and walk dogs. can't everyone just chill out and focus on real solutions?
Sally P. November 22, 2011 at 10:38 PM
this comment seems very anti bike to me...a big generalization. "a substantial segment"? there are plenty of a-holes in this city on bikes, in cars, and on foot.
Sally P. November 22, 2011 at 10:39 PM
wow. kevin, you said you went back over the conversation and also said you weren't anti bike. get the bikes out of the park? how can you be more anti bike than that? you and the anti car zealots are equally crazy. bye.
mw November 22, 2011 at 10:47 PM
while it is hard to disagree with the assertion that we use common sense, it doesn't follow that such 'sense' dictates a ban on cars. there are plenty of elder and handicapped people that would disagree. also, 'common sense' in the context of a city park is different than, say, a national park. its contextual - common sense says wild animals shouldn't be in a cage, but i think most folks enjoy a city zoo, such as the one in the park. anyways, the justifications i've seen discussed for banning cars apply equally well to bikes (environmental concerns notwithstanding).
Chicken Underwear November 22, 2011 at 10:52 PM
How would having cars in the park help you grandmother get to certain areas? Never mind. But the fact that cars and in the park makes for confusing rules. The lanes that a bike is supposed to be in change based on time of day, day of week and side of park.
Chicken Underwear November 22, 2011 at 11:08 PM
I don't think banning cars from the park would deny the handicapped access.
Jennifer Medyuk November 23, 2011 at 12:09 AM
parksloper, I've been following all your posts on this site, you seem to be an angry spiteful troll. All of your posts are nothing but bile and contempt for people that enjoy bike riding. You lump ever person on two wheels into this unruly mass that has no regard for anyone or the law. Bikers are pedestrians too, and most bikers also have little tolerance for unruly cyclist (because bikers are also pedestrians and experience crazy riders also). You need to come off it; you probably also were protesting the PPW bike lanes, and now you don't want bikes in the park? Where do you get all this hate for people just out for a little fresh air and exercise? The MAJORITY of bikers in PP ride in the bike designated section of the road. The MAJORITY of pedestrians in PP walk wherever they want. Was your daddy a cyclist and…. Did he touch you? Is that what this is?
Sally P. November 23, 2011 at 12:54 AM
There used to be a trolley that took people around the park. If you brought it back, people with mobility issues would have an option for getting to remote areas of the park without having to open the whole thing to cascades of automobiles. Additionally, the park often makes exceptions for people with handicap plates or permits who are attending events at the picnic house or other areas that are a bit of a walk from the entrances. It's not an all or nothing proposal, as those who play the "elderly mother" card would suggest. I can guarantee that the people speeding through the park at rush hour aren't trying to get to the Nevermead.
Neil November 23, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Ban cars from our park.
Rick Oshea November 23, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Neil, nobody here disagrees with you about banning cars in the park. But the problem is that no one is addressing the issue the article presents which is that a biker seriously injured a pedestrian. It's not the first time it has happened and how do we stop it from happening again.
Rick Oshea November 23, 2011 at 04:27 PM
So George, because I say point out that a biker hit a pedestrian and therefore there should be policing of bike riding that makes me intensely anti bike? If so then the implication is that you think that bikers should be able to do whatever they want and there should be no attempt to prevent this from happening again. Because this did not happen because of car traffic and it happened when the cars were banned from the park, that is not the cause. You suggest that they remove the red lights and replace them with flashing yellow lights "so that no one assumes they have the right of way". As it is now the bikers assume they have the right of way regardless of red lights. Have you ever seen a biker stop at a red light in the park? Be honest George. As it is now you see some pedestrians, particularly those with little children in tow, waiting patiently at the crosswalks in the naive belief that if they have the light in their favor it might be safe to cross. But you think the solution to avoid another tragic accident where a woman was seriously injured is to remove red lights? And you accuse me of idiocy?
Rick Oshea November 23, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Jennifer, I had to laugh because your posting about parksloper was "angry, spiteful" "nothing but bile and contempt" to use your own words. And your imaginings of parksloper's childhood abuse don't make you a very credible commentator. What is it by the way with you and with George who also dabbles in armchair psychology and questioned whether my father beat me with a tire inner tube? You two might want to go into a family counseling practice together. Or just go visit a counselor.
Jennifer Medyuk November 23, 2011 at 05:00 PM
I'm very spiteful, but i'm not a troll. the( all be it spiteful) point that was made was that there is a person that trolls this forum that seems to want bikes banned from their beloved park slope. Don't judge me only by my outrage; I am judging and mocking parksloper on everything it (because 'it's' a troll) has written on this site.
Parksloper November 23, 2011 at 07:28 PM
They're probably married.
Parksloper November 23, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Jennifer Medyuk, do you mean albeit? You grammar is as atrocious as your intelligence. "Don't judge me only by my outrage; I am judging and mocking parksloper on everything"
Neil November 24, 2011 at 01:16 AM
Criticizing grammar is the true sign of a troll.
Parksloper November 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Oh, give it a rest Neil, I've been posting as long as you so now I'm a troll. You're as pathetic and ignorant as Jennifer.
Arlene November 27, 2011 at 01:05 AM
Parksloper is clearly a psychopath.
Rick Oshea November 28, 2011 at 05:24 PM
On my walk around the park Saturday I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of police officers posted at the crosswalk near the Vanderbilt entrance. They were forcing bikers to stop at the red light for pedestrians to cross. I approached an officer and thanked him for taking some action. I said I assumed that it was in response to the woman who had been hit by a biker and was in a coma. He said that besides her tragic accident a small child had been hit the next day. The injuries were not serious, just " a knot on the child's forehead". So it is overdue to police the behavior. The cop said that maybe if they do this a few times bikers will get the message. I said that bikers always yell at people who are crossing the road and he said "Hey they yell at us". Maybe this may have some impact on a serious problem. I have my fingers crossed.
Richard Z. November 28, 2011 at 06:17 PM
If only the cops could mobilize the same response after one of the hundreds of kids, seniors, and other pedestrians killed by cars outside of the park. I guess it's easier to make cyclists slow down than it is to stop speeding drivers.
rick sanchez November 28, 2011 at 06:45 PM
if only the cops could mobilize the commenters on an article about the park to comment about things in the park. i guess i's easier for bikers to talk about speeding drivers killing folks outside the park.
Richard Z. November 28, 2011 at 06:51 PM
I am not a biker. I am a jogger. I still think it's a farce that the cops can get all jazzed up about safety in the park but apparently can't do anything about a couple hundred deaths that happen in NYC, most of them in Brooklyn. Yeah, the accidents in the park were serious and I'm glad to see the NYPD do something about them since I've been almost clipped by a few jerky bikers, but even I admit that I'd rather they focus their efforts on some of the streets around the park. they are far more dangerous with all of the speeding, phone talking, inattentive, reckless drivers. why can't anyone look at this and say it's a bit of an overreaction, especially when the nypd doesn't do much about dangerous and deadly drivers?
Richard Z. November 28, 2011 at 07:13 PM
If only the reflexive bike haters like the two Ricks here could get as worked up over dead pedestrians on about a thousand streets not located within Prospect Park, maybe we'd be on our way to stopping the traffic death epidemic that plagues Brooklyn.
Parksloper November 28, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Another juvenile chimes in with it's two cents.
Chicken Underwear November 28, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Parksloper, When was the last time you were actually in Prospect Park?

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