A ‘round’ of applause for city’s Park Circle plan

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The traffic circle at the southeast corner of Prospect Park is such a mess that the neighborhood group most known for its disapproval of the Department of Transportation has joined forces with the hated agency in support of a plan to lessen traffic, ease pedestrian crossing, and improve safety for bicyclists and horses.

Windsor Terrace’s Community Board 7 voted unanimously in June to support a short-term redesign of Park Circle, the large rotary where Prospect Park Southwest, Fort Hamilton Parkway, Coney Island Avenue and Parkside Avenue all come together.

“We were quite pleased that they came to the community and solicited people’s thoughts and experiences,” said the board’s district manager, Jeremy Laufer, evoking an April kerfuffle over the city’s unilateral decision to close vehicular entrances and exits in Prospect Park.

The Park Circle plan — which could turn into a reality as early as this fall — calls for shrinking the roadway from four lanes of traffic to three, and replacing unused stretches of asphalt with landscaping.

New signage would make the traffic circle easier for drivers to navigate, while narrowing the roadway would keep cars from speeding, according to a Department of Transportation spokesman.

The city also intends to merge Prospect Park’s vehicular entrance and exit into a single roadway, while using the former automotive exit as an entrance to the park for cyclists and horseback riders.

Bikers and equestrians would also benefit from a pair of buffered cycling and horsing lanes that will loop around the traffic circle.

For walkers, the city will install shorter and more direct crosswalks between the circle itself and Parkside Avenue, and on Prospect Park Southwest and Ocean Parkway — a drag that would also receive a makeover intended to remedy its expressway-like look.

Park Circle pedestrians, bikers, drivers, and horseback riders told The Brooklyn Paper that something needs to be done to make the roundabout safer.

“It’s so dangerous. The road definitely needs to be changed,” said driver Yvette Castro. “Some drivers just don’t care — and with the setup here that’s not a good thing.”

Pedestrian Catherine Quamina agreed.

“Park Circle needs to be changed,” she said. “The crosswalks are so confusing, so many different directions to go — it’s not clear at all.”

— with Thomas Nocera

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Reader Feedback

john from all brooklyn says:
Why do circles exist anyway? Even the more storied ones, like Columbus in Manhattan and the innumerable ones in Washington, DC make driving hazadous, wreak havoc on numbering schemes, and isolate those souls brave enough to enter them for recreation. Circles should all be turned into plazas and back to the regular street grid. Union Square is a successful example.
July 6, 2009, 2:36 pm
Jimmy from Brooklyn says:
Union Square is a Square. Columbus Circle is a Circle. They are different shapes.
Sept. 23, 2009, 10:41 am
Adam says:
I've been watching this construction for a few days, and am a regular bicycle commuter through the circle. The dedicated light upon exiting from the park already makes this quite safe for cyclists heading to Coney Island Ave. The lack of traffic exiting from Ocean Parkway/Prospect Expressway means you can always proceed through the following (always red) light and get onto CIA ahead of the traffic.

The new design narrows what was previously a wide four lane merge to a two lane merge (which I've always found smooth as a driver). From the looks of it, this will cause congestion. Note that the road is not currently prone to speeding, because the lights always stop traffic at least once per traverse of the circle.

As a driver I am concerned that this will reduce the driving efficiency of the circle and cause constant "stop and go" merges where traffic had previously flowed. As a bicycle commuter, I am concerned that this congestion will make it more dangerous for me to travel. (more curbs = fewer safe places to evade cars).

I am excited, however, about the landscaping, the organization and the safer pedestrian crossings. If a dedicated bike lane exists and is well designed, then I take back my comments on the danger to cyclists. But I won't be able to take the road any more.
Sept. 23, 2009, 10:52 am

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