Radars of the lost park: Activists tracking car speeds in Prospect

Clocked: Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White clocks a motorist going 12 miles-per-hour over the speed limit on Prospect Park’s East Drive on Feb. 2.
Brooklyn Paper
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They feel the need — the need to monitor speed!

An anti-car activist group is deploying members armed with radar guns to Prospect Park to hunt for speeding motorists in an effort to convince the city to nix all cars from Brooklyn’s Backyard, according to the organization’s head honcho.

“We want to uncover how bad the problem is and further evidence that the park should be car-free,” said Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White.

Mayor DeBlasio outlawed driving on the park’s Ditmas Park-bound West Drive in 2015, but stopped short of banning cars from the green space altogether, with Prospect-Heights-bound motorists still allowed on East Drive between 7-9 am on weekdays and holidays.

Now Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D-Prospect-Lefferts Gardens) is working on a plan to oust those vehicles as well, and Steely White is hoping to give him the data he needs to prove once and for all that the drivers are a menace to the pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, and horse riders who also use the road.

Not only do park-using rev-heads regularly blow the 25-miles-per hour speed limit, the bike-booster claims, they frequently hit East Drive before its legal 7 am opening.

Steely-White took a radar gun down there on Thursday between 6:45–7:45 am, where he says he clocked 10 drivers going at least 10 miles above the speed limit, and 21 motorists putting unsuspecting bipedal commuters in danger by driving in the park before 7 am.

“It’s more dangerous because park users aren’t expecting cars at those hours,” said White. “It really catches people unaware and lulls users into a false sense of security.”

But nixing traffic on East Drive would be not so easy as it was on the West, says a Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

East Drive is more heavily trafficked — in 2013, around 418 vehicles per hour used the road, versus 233 on West Drive — and it would be tougher to divert into onto alternative roads nearby, which are already busy enough and the sites of frequent car crashes, she said.

But park-lovers say West Drive’s lower traffic was a result of many years of activism from the Park Slope side of the meadow.

“Over a number of years, there were many things that happened that slowly ramped down the demand on the West Drive,” said local resident Seth Kaplan, founder of park advocacy group Parks4us. “That’s to the credit of the community there and the elected officials, but it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, because when they looked at the data and DeBlasio said they want to close West Drive to car traffic, there was a lot less demand.”

Many Prospect-Lefferts Gardens residents are now eager to see similar results on their side of the park, he said.

“This community definitely does want to see reduced or no traffic,” he said. “It’s a park, not a highway.”

In fact, some residents say the notion is so popular locally, they have a hard time even imagining even motorists objecting.

“No parent, biker, jogger, or park-lover I know is against this,” said Prospect-Lefferts Gardens blogger Tim Thomas. “You’d have to be kind of selfish to demand the right to drive in a public park, you know?”

Eugene declined comment.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Matt from Greenpoint says:
Without proof of proper calibration of the gun and evidence of his training to use it, the "data" is worthless.
Feb. 8, 2017, 2:30 am
Ban It from World says:
Ban people from the entire world and thereby save the planet .
Feb. 8, 2017, 8 am
Chris from Sunset says:
Why in the world are cars allowed to drive in a park?
Feb. 8, 2017, 9:47 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Plenty of bikes breaking the sound barrier in the park also, but that's ok I guess.
Feb. 8, 2017, 11:06 am
Melvin from 11215 says:
The genius who buit the park built it to drive through. Central park has cars that go through it too. People against cars driving through the park probably can't afford a car.
Traffic congestion is also eased and you can view the park with your entire family in a different way as well.
Ive been in the slope since 1973 .
These new trouble makers are the real nuisance.
Feb. 8, 2017, 11:29 am
VLM from Park Slope says:
Yes, Melvin, I'm sure these cars are exactly what Olmsted and Vaux had in mind when they opened Prospect Park in 1867. Brilliant observation. The park was not built for cars, and it was a historical mistake to allow cars in the first place.
Feb. 8, 2017, 11:44 am
Dave from Brooklyn says:
There's no valid argument to having cars on east drive. Flatbush Ave is right there and has plenty of capacity.
Feb. 8, 2017, 12:27 pm
Nick from Windsor Terror says:
Time to move to Florida Melvin, and take your fake facts with you.
Feb. 8, 2017, 2:45 pm
Bob from BK says:
No mention of all the bicyclists running red lights sending peds scampering for cover.

How about some of these car-hating activists setting up a camera at the traffic signals and filming all the two wheeled transgressors?
Feb. 8, 2017, 4:38 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Bob, don't be surprised if those using the radar are members of some group with an anti-car bias like Transportation Alternatives. Their whole objective is to only punish motorists. Hearing them going after cyclists flouting the laws is like finding a pro-Palestinian supporter who calls out Hamas, and we all know how rare that is. For the record, I do call out reckless drivers, but that doesn't excuse the rogue cyclists from breaking the laws themselves.
Feb. 8, 2017, 5 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Now that read the article, it is Paul Steely White who is doing this, which shows how he will once again state his anti-car bias while ignoring cyclists that do almost the same when it comes to flouting laws.
Feb. 8, 2017, 6:10 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Oh Tal -- You mean you didn't read the article before you typed the SAME THING YOU WRITE EVERY TIME ?
Feb. 8, 2017, 6:15 pm
Jym from PLG says:
@Tal - Measuring the truth is bias?
Feb. 8, 2017, 8:36 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
the roads in the park were built to transport PRIVATE PROPERTY ala a horse and buggy or a car -back to ohio
Feb. 9, 2017, 10:58 am
Michael Ring from Park Slope says:
The problem with the roadways in Prospect Park is that too many people are entitled to use the. Any off-duty police officer, friend of an off-duty police officer or even someone who sat next to an off-duty police officer at a movie theater gets to use Prospect Park as a shortcut.
Feb. 9, 2017, 11:49 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Nobody is saying that reckless driving is justified, but this doesn't excuse the fact that rogue cyclists exists and White does next to nothing to stop them let alone call them out. On park paths, some of the cyclists are riding on them as if they are in the Tour de France, but I'm not hearing White or anyone in his group talking about that. because that isn't their fight. However, if anyone can prove to me that White has called out such cyclists with proof, I will believe them, otherwise my claim to him having an anti-car bias holds. Meanwhile, I do thank Alan Dershowitz, who usually talks about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, for making the statement on rogue cyclists, which for some reason White or anyone else in Transportation Alternatives tend to turn a blind eye to.
Feb. 9, 2017, 3:42 pm
Frank from Furter says:
I don't always agree with transportation alternatives. But I have always heard them tell bikers to follow all the rules. So I went and look at their website which leads to a TA sponsored website it's too bad people don't want to be confused by the facts.
Feb. 9, 2017, 4:30 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
It is easier with a car to knock over a bicyclist than it is for a bicyclist to knock over a car. This has been shown.

The anti-car crowd is a combination of rich kids that garage their Mercedes and poor kids who serve them coffee and can't afford a car. Both use bikes, boards, skates or whatever. Both have increased greatly in number with gentrification.

Its just another attack on the middle class people, some of whom can just barely afford their car, but need it to get to work, take kids to school, haul tools etc.
Feb. 9, 2017, 5:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Frank, I hate to break this to you, but the Biking Rules section was more of a PR stunt they did a while back. I highly doubt that White addresses this problem today. I feel that it was done just to get the media of his back in the claim that he has an anti-car bias. If you read his latest columns on the Daily News, he doesn't mention cyclists once, but grills motorists a lot when talking about Vision Zero, which shows that he does have selective outrage. Lately, this group doesn't even bring up cyclists at all, and that's what matters now. In other words, I thank Dershowitz for addressing the issue White keeps going away from. Just because cyclists don't hit a lot more doesn't make them less dangerous or even a reason to flout traffic laws in that matter.
Feb. 9, 2017, 6:24 pm
Sid from Boerum hill says:
Or people with disabilities for whom the subway is not an option.
Feb. 9, 2017, 9:19 pm
Juan from Crown Heights says:
let's get something straight. i would much rather get hit by a bike at 30 mph rather than a car at 30 mph. there were 144 deaths and 10,735 injuries in 2016 caused by motor vehicles. that's why this is worth talking about. parks are places where families with children expect to go and be safe. why does driving your car there to get someplace 5 minutes after take president over this? anyone against cars driving in public parks are selfish bastards.
Feb. 10, 2017, 12:24 am
Michael Ring from Park slope says:
The thing is, that you're more likely to get a ticket violating the off leash rules or cycling in the wrong direction on the road than for driving your car through the park when the roads are closed to cars. What Prospect Park needs is some consistent and reasonable enforcement of these rules and laws
Feb. 10, 2017, 8:58 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
I bike regularly in Prospect Park, often at odd hours. Have never come close to being hit by a car there. But, if they want to calm traffic, it's easy:

- have Dept of Parks install gates to keep cars out during hours the drive is closed to vehicles.
- install a lot of speed bumps.
- deploy police (not civilians) with radar guns.
Feb. 10, 2017, 10:40 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Juan, the thing about statistics is that they don't tell you the whole story, just the effects. In some of these cases, the causes of some of those accidents did involve a cyclist or pedestrian that was flouting the laws themselves, which is something you won't hear. Let's not forget that websites that praise bike zealots such as Streetsblog almost NEVER mentions the causes when they aren't in their favor as a way to make motorists look bad. Another thing is that they cry foul whenever there is a call to crack down on rogue cyclists despite calling for enforcement on motorists in that they must follow every letter of the law when at the same time, they feel that they deserve special treatment to it. Sometimes, there are two sides to every story, but so many try not to believe that. Also, I am one of those who does believe in bad students in which the teachers shouldn't have all the blame. Overall, I do believe that all motorists should follow the rules, but so should all pedestrians and cyclists with no exceptions. This is why Vision Zero is seen as a failure. The only way to really have safe streets is to have all groups follow the laws, not just one only.
Feb. 10, 2017, 4:04 pm
Tal's Mother Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Tal, stop bothering the people on the internet with your stupid BS. It's time to grow up, be a big boy and maybe considering getting a job and your own apartment.
Feb. 10, 2017, 4:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Mom, I hate to break this to you bu the cyclists and pedestrians of Brooklyn are clearly members of Hamas that hate the WNBA.
Feb. 10, 2017, 4:49 pm
Benny from Park Slope says:
Tell ya what. Do something about the entitled lowlifes on two wheels who routinely blow through red lights, ride around with their toddler spawn on their bikes at night without safety lights (while wearing oh-so-hipster-all-black, of course), weave in and out of traffic, and generally act like semi-sentient baboons whose carbon footprint is marginally smaller than that of car owners, and MAYBE I'll take these self-satisfied speed monitors seriously. Until then? Go jump in the lake.
Feb. 11, 2017, 10:50 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
@ Benny from Park Slope,

I'm an unemployed significantly obese man-child living in my parent's basement and spend most of my time ranting about how cyclists hate the WNBA on the internet.

My question is - will you be my sugar daddy?
Feb. 12, 2017, 4:29 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Benny, that person is an imposter, and is probably one of the bike zealots trying to make you look bad. I only got on my computer now after spending a good part of my day clearing my driveway of snow, and it did a number on my back due to being slush. Anyway, seeing that really does show how low the bike zealots can really go especially when they can't seem to prove their own statements and resort to downplaying instead.
Feb. 12, 2017, 5:35 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What did I miss? I only got on my computer now after making sweet love to my man slave aka "Benny from Park Slope"

He gently caressed my back with icy street slush.
Feb. 13, 2017, 9:46 am
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
I've been out of the loop a while but I just noticed something. Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville is actually the genius that inspired Donald Trump to become president. His use of fake news and non-facts was borrowed by Donald to get voters.
Feb. 13, 2017, 4:38 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Seeing that Chicken Underwear made that statement, he is the imposter especially if he the one grandstanding after this unless he can tell me where he was at the time the comment was made because I can.
Feb. 13, 2017, 4:52 pm

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