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Cars will be stuck in ‘Park’ under city plan

The Brooklyn Paper
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A city plan to bar cars from driving out of Prospect Park at two key exits has excited cyclists and walkers — and infuriated a neighborhood group that has long clashed with the city over automotive traffic in the landmarked greenspace.

Windsor Terrace’s Community Board 7 — which has opposed all calls to remove cars from Prospect Park’s 3.35-mile loop — is now irate about the planned closures of the entrance and exit at Third Street and the exit-only roadway at 16th Street, partly because of concerns about traffic and partly because the group wasn’t involved in the decision-making process.

“No one was contacted on this before it was a done deal,” said CB7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer, who worried that barring cars from entering and exiting the park at Third Street in Park Slope and exiting at 16th Street in Windsor Terrace could direct more cars towards the already tumultuous roundabout at Park Circle.

Laufer said he was miffed that the Department of Transportation did not share its plan with board when the agency presented its proposed Park Circle renovations in February.

“It makes us suspicious that they did this on a whim,” he said.

But the city maintains that the automotive closures won’t stand in the way of the agency’s plans to rehab Park Circle, and will in fact improve the park — where traffic is only permitted on weekdays from 7 to 9 am (northbound) and 5 to 7 pm (southbound).

“The changes to Prospect Park will reduce conflict between motor vehicles and neighborhood residents crossing to and from the park,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Seth Solomonow, who declined to elaborate on why the agency did not discuss the proposal with the board before making its final decision.

The city estimates that when cars are barred from entering and exiting at Third Street and exiting at 16th Street on April 27, the closures will divert, at most, 40 additional vehicles per hour towards Park Circle.

Cycling advocates, who have called for banning cars from the park entirely, celebrated the city’s decision.

“It will be more enticing for pedestrians and bicyclists when there are no cars [using those entrances and exits],” said Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the Transportation Alternatives.

But some drivers dread the closures.

“People who drive through here [won’t] be happy because there will be more traffic on Park Circle,” a passerby told The Brooklyn Paper. “I used to drive there all the time and traffic was a pain as it was.”

— with Aisha Gawad

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Reader Feedback

Brooklyn Bob from PS says:
I wish all these wanna be Lawn Guylanders would take their cars and GO!

I hear prices in Wyandanch are at a 10 year low. BUY NOW!
April 15, 2009, 10:44 am
Mike from Ft Greene says:
Every step towards a car-free park is a good one. Thanks, DOT, for this one.
April 15, 2009, 11:17 am
TF from Park Slope says:
Cars should be banned from the entire park at all times. I jog around the park in the mornings, and I can not understand why cars are still allowed to drive through there. it absolutely ruins the entire atmosphere and enjoyment of the park. What's the point? Are they that lazy that they have to shortcut through the park? I say get cars on the highways where they belong, and keep the park an enjoyable, peaceful place that is different from the bustling city around it.

I am very glad the government has the good sense to at least limit traffic in the park. Hopefully this will lead to a full ban eventually.
April 15, 2009, 12:54 pm
Josh says:
TF, the counterargument says that if the cars are banned form the park, they'll zooming through your neighborhood (Park Slope) instead. Some are okay with that, but others scream that traffic is already out of control on Park Slope Streets and want something done. Well, you can't wave a magic wand and have all the cars go away or just stay on the Prospect Expressway and BQE... So what's the solution?
April 15, 2009, 2:07 pm
Barnard says:
Hallelujah! Thank goodness those driveways into the park are being closed. Getting to the 3rd Street tot lot is going be a lot safer, and less cars in the park is always better. Amen.

Josh, if Prospect Park is completely reopened to people (i.e. closed to cars), then there will be less traffic. Driving is elastic. Build more roads and you get more traffic. Take away roads and you get less (and less air pollution and fewer crashes and quieter streets). Look at the West Side Highway in Manhattan. When it collapsed in the 1970s, traffic did not increase. People changed their behavior--drove less, took mass transit, traveled at other times. The same will happen when Prospect Park is car-free.
April 15, 2009, 4:27 pm
Mike from Greenpoint says:
Barnard,

Thanks for your response to Josh. I've been getting tired of explaining this to folks!
April 15, 2009, 7:14 pm
DrPangloss from Windsor Terrace says:
Shouldn't they at least meet with people to know local concerns and issues or is DOT the word of god now? Seems they could have avoided ignorant responses and valid anger simply by C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-I-N-G!

Oh well, I guess all is for the best in this the best of all possible worlds!
April 16, 2009, 4:38 pm

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