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Tonight! Is a car-promise possible in Prospect Park?

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The angry fight for control of Prospect Park’s roadway has entered the compromise phase.

Biking advocacy group Transportation Alternatives — which until recently has called for a complete ban on cars on the park’s drives — has now backed off and is calling for the roadway to merely be squeezed from two lanes to one.

The result, the group said, would be more room for bikers and other park users — and slower-moving cars.

The compromise plan will be presented to Community Board 7 tonight in what is sure to be the biggest meeting since October’s clash between Prospect Park cyclists and motorists.

The changes are far less extreme than the earlier call for Olmsted and Vaux’s masterpiece to be entirely car-free, but they would benefit bikers and walkers all the same, said Transportation Alternatives spokesman Wiley Norvell.

“We like the idea because there is a huge speeding problem on the loop drive and when you reduce the width, you eliminate a lot of the reckless turning movements and speeding,” he said.

The possible compromise between motorists and cyclists comes only two months after community boards 7 and 14 banded together to reject the notion of a car-free park.

But cycling activists say they aren’t abandoning their dreams of a vehicular ban — the Holy Grail for some two-wheelers.

“The entire campaign for a car-free Prospect Park has been incremental,” Norvell said. “Our vision is for a completely car-free Prospect Park, but anything that inches it towards being less car-centric and more people-centric is for the good. We would recognize this as a pretty big victory.”

Cycling advocates argue that reducing the width of car lanes would protect walkers and cyclists along the leafy drive, where Park Slope resident Rachel Fruchter was killed in 1997 after colliding with a van in a section of the loop that was supposed to be car free.

Transportation Alternatives will present its proposals for Prospect Park to Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee tonight — Tuesday, Dec. 2 — at the board office (4201 Fourth Ave., between 42nd and 43rd streets in Sunset Park), 6:30 pm. For info, call (718) 854-0003.

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Reader Feedback

j mork from p hts says:
What's "extreme" about asking that a park be used as a park and not a highway?

Let's do a trial closing this summer and see what happens!
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:55 am
dy from boreum hill says:
I agree with j mork, there's nothing extreme about giving back one road, with the myriad of roads available for drivers.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:28 am
mike from ev says:
I'm having a hard time understanding why restoring the park to its original, intended state is "extreme".

I'd also point out that Transportation Alternatives is not simply a "biking advocacy group". They work on pedestrian, public space and other related issues as well.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:35 am
JOE from PH says:
As a driver who uses the Park during rush hours. I agree with the single lane plan. It will slow down the car traffic and provide more room for the park pedestrians.
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:51 pm
bob from heights says:
eliminating vehicles from the park altogether would, in fact, be "extreme" and would NOT restore the park to its "original state" as mike suggests. the park was designed with roads for vehicles. the type of vehicles in existence has changed over time, but the purpose of the roads was always to allow vehicular passage. (having said that, going to one lane might be just fine — allowing vehicle passage but slowing their speed.)
Dec. 3, 2008, 7:15 pm
Mazz from Bay Ridge says:
Dear BOB from the Heights: The roadways in Prospect Park were never intended to carry any traffic over fifteen miles an hour. The Roadways were not meant as simply a road from here to there but to take your time and Promenade.
Dec. 3, 2008, 9:36 pm
mike from ev says:
bob - glad you support the interim measure of reducing car lanes to one. but you should read your history more carefully -- Olmstead and Vaux designed the loop roads inside Central and Prospect intentionally for slow and leisurely traffic -- thus all the twists and banks (Robert Moses sadly erased some of that). I think anyone would agree that the car traffic inside the park today is anything but leisurely -- it's almost all commuting traffic, as evidenced by the resulting hysterics when anybody suggests that the park roads be reverted to recreational traffic.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:19 pm
robb from park slope says:
I'd like to see some enforcement of the speed limit on the drive. ANYTHING to slow the traffic down. I've seen cars going very fast around the park and since the they drive there at sunrise and sunset when visibility is worst it is a big issue.

I see LOTS of cops in the park (who also often speed) and I've never, ever seen any ticketing of speeding vehicles.
Oct. 20, 2010, 9:49 am

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