POLL: Should Cars be Allowed in Prospect Park?

Calls for ban gain steam following police crackdown on speeding bikers.

Earlier this week on how the NYPD, prompted by several serious collisions between bikes and pedestrians, is cracking down on cyclists in Prospect Park by issuing almost 200 tickets for breaking the law.

The article prompted fierce debate in the comments section, sometimes pitting pro-cyclists and pro-pedestrians against one another. Yet another solution, , could leave both groups happy—banning cars from the park.

The L Magazine reports that a group organized by Park Slope Neighbors recently tracked the speed of cars in the park with a radar gun. Of the 195 cars they clocked, all but two were exceeding the 25 mph speed limit.

As of now, cars are only allowed in the park for four hours a day, during rush hours. But their presence is felt all of the time, said Park Slope Neighbors founder Eric McClure in a press release:

“Removing cars from the park should really be considered a prerequisite for solving the issue of conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians. The ongoing presence of motor vehicles in the park will continue to sow confusion over the usage of the car lane during car-free hours, and relying on the honor system to keep drivers confined to their one lane... seems like a recipe for danger.”

What do you think?

michael seltzer March 16, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Said I wouldnt respond but I am just back from the park- It seems that the new lane system is designed to provide more of a "buffer zone" for pedestrians crossing. By moving all bikers into one lane (problem to discuss) it prevents pedestrians from walking directly into bike lane traffic. This increases awareness and provides for safety in crossing. Now for leisure/recreation riders, you will now be sharing in close proximity a lane with a speeding peloton (line of spandex warriors) the meandering criss cross bike riding will be yelled at as faster bikers yell "on your right" scaring you as they fly past. In addition, if I am following all traffic rules and am confined to one lane and stop at red lights, I fully expect crossers to obey the traffic light as well and wait that extra minute so essential to crossing to feed that beak-less freak of a goose before they gas him in the next round. If people cross against the light, they will be yelled at, as I have now become a 25mph speeding messenger of destruction who is now abiding by all rules and am concerned for the safety and well being of all park users. It will be warm and sunny tomorrow, the new lanes are not down yet, crowded park, people pay attention, take out your headphones and look both ways when crossing. See you in the park.
Liam Mccarthy March 17, 2012 at 05:50 PM
According to Wikipedia, more than 7 million people use Prospect Park every year. I think it's safe to assume there are several thousand cyclists who use the park daily, and tens or hundreds of thousands who ride through it each year. From what I've been able to find in my 15 minutes of googling there seem to have been 4? accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians in the park last year. If you can find evidence of more please provide a link (I'm counting the two woman who got lots of press attention and a 'child' who was referenced in a couple articles + a freebee). The point is the park attracts a LOT of people, most of whom get along fine. By contrast, 20 pedestrians were injuring trying to get TO the park by cars at Ocean/Parkside in a single year! I think it's statistics like that which drive cyclists crazy - perhaps some of your energy - nevermind the police tickets - could be better directed? But to answer your ever-present question of how removing cars from the park would help: it would allow for consistent lane use and signage, rather than alternating lanes based on car usage. It would permit different strategies for red lights themselves, allowing for push-button crossing, infrared sensors, whatever, that would make the lights meaningful instead of random, and the park circle roadway itself wouldn't be so torn up, which can cause accidents in and of itself. Now you've got an answer.
Liam Mccarthy March 17, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Sorry for the horrendous grammar at the end of paragraph one, and also for the fact that I forgot to announce it was intended for a series of Ricks, and Rick-types who frequently ask why removing cars has anything to do with pedestrian safety since both accidents occurred during car-free hours.
Phil V. March 18, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I'm all for banning autos in Prospect Park as the population using the park continues to increase. Years ago I didn't think it was necessary, but as a regular user of the Park for over 30 years I see the problems and conflicts really increasing. Now if there was some way to regulate the bike traffic so that people trying to cross the road on foot (especially slow oldies and those with children) don't put their lives in danger by speeding bicyclists (not to mention skateboarders and rollerbladers though they are less frequent). The worst section is that down hill towards the lake and at the lake where there are lots of people always crossing. What would be best is if everyone showed each other a little courtesy.
Steven A. Levine July 17, 2013 at 06:47 PM
To Adorabella, his name was Olmsted, and he and Calvert Vaux designed the park in the 1870s when the only traffic were horse drawn carriages, Ban the automobiles and bring back the carriages which can co-exist with bicyclists and pedestrians.


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