Sharing the pavement: Cars return to Prospect Park’s East Drive as summer-long ban ends

Park it: Dog walker Otto Avila said Prospect Park was safer for him — and his pooches — during a temporary ban on all cars from the meadow’s East Drive.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s a park with rides again — for now.

A summer-long ban on cars in Prospect Park ended Sept. 11, allowing rush-hour motorists to return to the green space’s East Drive as the city decides whether to permanently exile vehicles from Brooklyn’s Backyard, a move that would make the meadow safer for man — and his best friend — according to a dog walker.

“Everyone that I know is for the car ban,” said Otto Avila, 50, who frequently walks pups in the park. “I don’t have to worry about getting run over by a car, and the dogs don’t, too.”

The ban, which began on July 17, eliminated a weekday window from 7 to 9 am during which Downtown-bound drivers were permitted to share East Drive with joggers and bicyclists as an alternate, morning-rush route.

It followed Mayor DeBlasio’s 2015 edict prohibiting car traffic from Prospect Park’s West Drive, a Coney Island-bound, evening-rush detour that was generally less traveled than its sister road on the Prospect Lefferts Gardens side of the lawn.

The city tested the East Drive car ban in the summer because there is less traffic that season — about 300 cars per hour, down from 400 in the fall. But it still hoped to source enough data to determine whether axing vehicle access to the road at all times would significantly congest surrounding thoroughfares.

The Department of Transportation will keep surveying the East Drive’s effect on area traffic now that it has reopened, and the city is soliciting input from local pols and other stakeholders before making a final decision, according to mayoral spokesman Ben Sarle.

If Hizzoner ultimately decides to permanently ban cars from the park, he’ll find a lot of support amongst locals who reside near the beloved green space, according to a Kensington mom.

“The park is an escape,” said Gloria St. Cyr, who walks there with her daughter. “I like what the mayor is doing. He’s looking out for people and their safety.”

But many motorists disagree, arguing that two hours of early-morning traffic are a small price to pay for easing Brooklynites rush-hour commutes.

“It’s reasonable to give access just for the sake of easing congestion,” said Pete Gomori, a 64-year-old Kensington resident and driver.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:55 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Well that's disappointing.
Sept. 12, 2017, 8:44 am
if from Brooklyn says:
if they are afraid of getting run over by cars, they shouldn't be living in the city or perhaps any human inhabitant.

Horse and Carriage ran through the Park since it was created and now the car is simply a modern version of the Horse and Carriage.

Just have a speed limit of 15 mph and have an automated system ticketing for 20 mph and up to maintain it.

Full EV's (Electric Vehicles) should be allowed year round as an incentive to clean & quiet transportation which should be appreciated in a Park especially.
Sept. 12, 2017, 9:36 am
Chris from Sunset says:
I think rather than giving the last word to some guy who claims the park route eases car congestion, the reporter should have noted numerous DOT studies that show unused car capacity and congestion not increasing on surrounding roads during other closures. You know, because of science and facts vs. some guy's opinion. Just my opinion.
Sept. 12, 2017, 9:39 am
Rob from NY says:
No cars in parks. Period.
Sept. 12, 2017, 11 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Everyone I know is in favor of cars using the park. See how easy that is?

Allowing cars to access the park isn't the end of the world. But keeping howling at the moon, bike fetishists.
Sept. 12, 2017, 11:27 am
Resident from Brooklyn says:
"I think it’s reasonable to give access just for the sake of easing congestion."

No it's not. It's a park.
Sept. 12, 2017, 11:48 am
FLO says:
It is true that horse-drawn carriages rode in the park from the beginning but it was as a recreational activity, not as a short-cut from Point A to Point B. The closest analogy today is bike riding for fun or exercise. As "Rob" and "Resident" wrote, it's a park. Bad decisions made in the past (making the park loop a parkway) do not need to be perpetuated forever because it is what we got used to.
Sept. 12, 2017, 12:12 pm
Voice of Reason from NYC says:
Agreed that we don't need roadways in our parks. It's a place for recreation, not transportation.

On the flip side, we also don't need parks in our roadways. Ban cars from parks, and get rid of those ridiculous "plazas" DOT is jamming in everywhere.
Sept. 12, 2017, 12:43 pm
Warren Wilhelm from Park Slope says:
Re-elect me and I will ban these cars!!!
Sept. 12, 2017, 12:58 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Actually, the more I think about it the more I believe they should ban cars in PP. And ban bikes also. Prospect Park is a place of leisure, not a velodrome. No needs to get cursed out by some roided up Lance Armstrong wannabe for the crime of walking anymore than they need to breathe in car exhausts.
Sept. 12, 2017, 2:03 pm
Mike from Slope says:
Can we also ban dogs, or at least get rid of the off leash hours? Years ago, there were no off leash hours, and the long meadow was a peaceful oasis in the morning. Now, it's a barking nightmare.
Sept. 12, 2017, 3:48 pm
Billy from Sunset says:
I agree with "Resident". It is a park.
Sept. 12, 2017, 5:29 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
No parks. Period. Sorry punk.
Sept. 12, 2017, 11:43 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Speaking of dogs... some JA near me just got a dog that barks all day while I'm trying to work. Probably one of those Korean food breed things.
What is the number one calls to get it impounded?
Sept. 12, 2017, 11:58 pm
Gargoyle from Newkirk Plaza says:
Get rid of that damned circle at Coney Island Ave and Ft. Hamilton Parkway. It impedes direct pedestrian access to the park.

Tangentially, add bus shelters on both sides of Prospect Park Southwest and 15th Street.

And, admittedly out there, extend the PATH train from the World Trade Center to Atlantic Terminal.
Sept. 13, 2017, 12:12 am
jdh from prospect heights says:
“It’s reasonable to give access just for the sake of easing congestion,” said Pete Gomori, a 64-year-old Kensington resident and driver.

That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.
Sept. 13, 2017, 3:39 am
Old time Brooklyn from Slope says:
Of course cars should be allowed as they alway have. It is scenic and a convenience
Curtail them on the weekends
Sept. 13, 2017, 8:28 am
Peter Engel from Fort Greene says:
"But many motorists disagree" about banning cars in Prospect Park.

I'm curious. How hard did Mr. Mixson have to work to find Pete Gomori, while not citing actual DOT data?

Times change. The ban works.

I took a long break from this rag . I don't see a reason to resume reading it. Sad.
Sept. 13, 2017, 9:59 am
I you're too fat to walk or ride a bike in the park then you shouldn't be allowed in said park. Keep the cars out, too many idiots drive like retards.
Sept. 13, 2017, 1:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
During rush hours, those park drives serve as cut through routes so some don't have to make circle routes to get around. Imagine if you had to get to a place that was on one end of the park to the other being almost across at the other end by driving. Would you rather that person goes completely around or use the park drives that will help cut through? I feel that the answer is pretty obvious here. At least motorists aren't riding off the streets unlike the cyclists in the park that are numerous times, and most park goers fear them even more especially because they are riding in their as if they are in the Tour de France without ever slowing down for others.
Sept. 13, 2017, 4:50 pm

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