Park and no ride! Mayor bans cars from Brooklyn’s Backyard for season

Brooklyn Paper
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It’s wheel-y happening!

Mayor DeBlasio on Monday announced a ban on all cars inside Prospect Park from July 17 to Sept. 11, and while the administration described the embargo as temporary, local leaders who support a vehicle-free meadow said they are optimistic that the seasonal restriction is a prelude to full-on prohibition.

“Hopefully, it will lead to a permanent closure,” said Eric McClure, Chairman of Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee. “I and many others have felt for a long time that the park should be completely free of cars, and doing a trial closure to measure the effect is great idea.”

The ban — which will begin Prospect Park’s first-ever entirely car-free period — temporarily eliminates a two-hour window that allows Downtown-bound drivers to zip up the park’s East Drive from 7 to 9 am on weekday mornings to circumvent rush-hour traffic. It follows the mayor’s 2015 decree that pulled vehicles from the meadow’s West Drive, which let Coney Island-bound motorists cut through Brooklyn’s Backyard during the evening rush and generally saw less traffic than the Downtown-bound route.

Less cars travel on the East Drive in the summer than in cooler seasons — about 300 per hour as compared to 400 per hour in the fall — and the city expects the ban will have negligible effects on streets surrounding the park, according to the mayor’s office.

Studies conducted by the Department of Transportation after West Drive’s permanent closure found that the most affected drivers’ travel times increased by less than a minute, and the agency will hold similar tests to determine how closing the East Drive affects its users’ morning commutes.

DeBlasio’s announcement delighted car critics who have decried vehicles in the park as a crime against nature for more than a decade, according to the head of a group that advocates for alternative transportation, who said he plans on pushing the city to make the temporary prohibition permanent.

“It’s a big move in a much safer direction and our focus now is in making it permanent,” said Paul Steely White, of Transportation Alternatives. “We hope to make a convincing case to the mayor that leaving the park in place for park users is the best policy, and should be the rule, not the short term exception.”

White, who spent a week monitoring motorists on the East Drive with his team earlier this year, said drivers routinely broke the road’s 25-mile-per hour speed limit, creating a hazard for park pedestrians.

The anti-car activists shared their findings with the city, but White said that the temporary ban was more likely motivated by the growing popularity of alternative travel options and an approaching September primary.

“I think politicians understand that this has always been a common sense issue, but now it’s a popular issue,” he said. “Being an election year, no decision are taken lightly.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tyler from pps says:
July 11, 2017, 9:23 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Can this please be permanent?
July 11, 2017, 9:32 am
Resident from Brooklyn says:
This is fantastic news! It's about time the east side of the park got the same treatment as the west side.
July 11, 2017, 9:55 am
james w says:
Does this mean that obnoxiously massive barbecues producing tons and tons of landfill and human waste every month will also be banned?
July 11, 2017, 11:06 am
Copy Editor from Park Slope says:
*Fewer* cars travel on the East Drive in the summer than in cooler seasons
July 11, 2017, 11:40 am
S from Greenpoint says:
Yay! Now can we make it permanent?
July 11, 2017, 1:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
When traffic builds up on the surrounding streets due to the park drive closures, can I blame White for this since he was the one pushing for this the most?
July 11, 2017, 3:34 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Yes Tal - When this causes you problems "commuting" from your mom's basement in Pleasantville, you go blame Mr. White.

"I am the one who knocks."
July 11, 2017, 4:57 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Moving this very tiny number of cars over to the wider streets outside the park will back up traffic all the way to my troll dungeon here in Westchester.

Which will cause problems for my parole office visits.
July 11, 2017, 5:34 pm
Will from Boerum Hill says:
About time! Who's bright idea was it to allow motor vehicle through traffic in a park in the first place? Hopefully common sense prevails and this becomes permenant.
July 11, 2017, 8:27 pm
Tom Rorb from Red Hook says:
From 2006, watch as cars break the law in Prospect Park!
July 11, 2017, 9:04 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Let's hope they repeal the law of unintended consequences next!
July 11, 2017, 11:27 pm
Tyler from pps says:
What unintended consequences would those be that your you alluding to, Mr. Leaking?

(Before you respond, remember, the west side hasn't been open for the afternoon/evening in a long time.)
July 12, 2017, 9:45 am
NN from Boerum Hill says:
Thank you Mayor DeBlasio! Please make this year-round. Cars do not belong in our park.
July 12, 2017, 6:06 pm
Johnny Boy from Da Slope says:
Are the toxic barbecuers next to the children's playground next !
July 14, 2017, 2:56 pm

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