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Cone rangers! City installs traffic barriers to deter Park cyclists

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The city has a message for bicyclists in Prospect Park in the wake of two near-fatal crashes: Slow down!

The Department of Transportation has deployed two dozen bright orange, barrel-sized cones on the park’s popular roadway — where two serious collisions have occurred in recent months — to narrow the street in hopes of retarding cyclists and warn them to brake for pedestrians.

The cones, which were installed last week on West Lake Drive, are also a symbol of a heated debate — over hazy right of way issues — that pits cyclists against walkers on the heavily trafficked street.

The city began the “pilot program” at the request of park officials to enhance safety on the downhill street, where bikers pick up speed, but then can’t see beyond a curve.

“It’s a hot spot with potential for conflict,” said Prospect Park Alliance president Emily Lloyd. “Everyone using the park must be aware of the safety of others.”

The road change comes two weeks after a 55-year-old park volunteer and frequent power walker Linda Cohen was struck by a 61-year-old cyclist in the area, leaving her so badly injured that doctors kept her in a medically induced coma to aid recovery.

Cohen wasn’t the first victim: In June, 37-year-old actress Dana Jacks, who frequently walked her dog in the park, suffered brain damage after a cyclist collided with her in the same location. Jacks has sued the city for a “careless and reckless” lack of traffic enforcement on what should be a serene roadway.

Park-goers reported other accidents — and dozens of close calls — at a task force meeting attended by more than 100 people last Wednesday, where neighbors compared the street to “the Wild West,” then asked for more signs, education and increased police enforcement.

At the Prospect Park Alliance-led hearing, suggestions included the basic (“There has to be more police presence”), creative (“Why don’t we have a designated time for speed cycling?”) and far-fetched (“I would eliminate all bikes all together”).

Others stressed the need for a car-free park, saying the shared roadway confuses right of way rules — although cops noted most of the crashes occurred during car-free hours.

Nearly everyone agreed on one thing: The roadway needs attention from the city — both from the Department of Transportation and the Police Department.

“Enforcement is paramount,” said Forrest Cicogni, Jacks’s husband.

But racing cyclists, who use the park loop as a training area, became a frequent target of local ire.

“I’m enraged at some of these so-called serious cyclists,” said Henry Astor, who added he rides bikes himself. “Just because you wear Spandex and shave your legs doesn’t mean you’re a good cyclist. Some of these guys are out of control.”

On Monday afternoon, cyclists on the street followed the rules — staying in between the new orange cones — although few slowed down. Others looked confused, weaving around the cones and into the lane marked with a bike symbol, which is actually designated for pedestrians during the park’s non-rush-hour, car-free periods.

Others admitted they had no idea what the new cones were for.

“I think the initial reaction is, ‘Oh, these must be for cars,’ ” said bike commuter Cindy Chung. “But doing something is smart — [cyclists] really go fast in this park.”

Pedestrians also noted the change is necessary — if only to send park-goers the message that something is up with the street.

“It draws attention to the roadway,” said Chris Jules, who was walking his dog nearby. “I’ve seen some crazy, careless walkers around here, too.”

A Department of Transportation spokeswoman said that the agency “will monitor these enhancements to see if any adjustments are needed.”

Lloyd admitted that more work needs to be done.

“There may not be one perfect solution,” she said last week. “But we want to be thinking about them.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

Updated 4:04 pm, November 22, 2011: Corrects an error about who requested the cones.
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Reader Feedback

ty from pps says:
This is almost balanced and non-inflammatory! Was that really hard for you? Or did you just have someone else write this for you?
Nov. 22, 2011, 8:34 am
judahspechal from bedstuy says:
just enforce the laws. Why is that so hard?
Nov. 22, 2011, 9:27 am
ty from pps says:
judahspechal -- the police don't enforce speeding, running red lights, aggressive driving, speeding, driving with no headlights, not signaling turns, turning right from the farthest lest lane, double-parking, out-of-state registrations, etc. etc. Why would they enforce the laws in the Prospect Park for cyclists?

The only reason will be political. It won't have anything to do with *actual* safety measures. You'll see that this is true when they end up doing the same pointless ticketing "blitzes" they did in Central Park. Giving cyclists tickets for running red lights when there are no pedestrians present (low hanging fruit) while the automobile traffic continues to race through the park at 40 mph.

I'm all for enforcing laws.... but for EVERYONE. Not just politically motivated low-hanging fruit. If the police need to be selective in their enforcement because of manpower or whatever, they should be prioritizing SAFETY. Not what is easiest or politically advantageous for the police chief.
Nov. 22, 2011, 9:54 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Bicyclists should police themselves, or they will whine when they are policed.

Get off the sidewalk. Stop running lights and stop signs.

Put the headphones down. Buy a light and a bell.
Nov. 22, 2011, 11:07 am
Parker from PPW says:
Get cars out of the park. You can't seriously change rules in the park if they change for a couple of hours each day. Emily Lloyd needs to do something about the cars that speed through at 40 mph before someone gets killed again.
Nov. 22, 2011, 2:14 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
It is nice that the DOT actually did something, but those barrels just add to the confusion. They also look like a slalom ski course to me.

Last year there I sat on a Prospect Park Alliance Committee on Safety and suggested signage like Central Park.

http://whatyourdonotknowbecauseyouarenotme.blogspot.com/2011/07/signs-that-make-sense-in-central-park.html

Those barrels are a bit too much.
Nov. 22, 2011, 2:32 pm
Phil from Park Slope says:
I agree with Michael about the barrels adding to the confusion. Throwing additional physical and visual obstructions into the mix is not a solution.
Nov. 22, 2011, 3:25 pm
nat from Greenpoint says:
OR is right most of the bikers are not follow the rules and regulations at all !!! do you realize that must of the bikers are idiots and should be removed from driving new york streets!!!!
Nov. 22, 2011, 4:10 pm
de says:
ppl think signage will help the situation? idiot biker can't see ppl crossing the street, why would they pay attention to any signs?
Nov. 22, 2011, 4:16 pm
ty from pps says:
Let's try an edit...

Most of the pedestrians do not follow the rules and regulations at all!! Do you realize most of the pedestrians are idiots and should be removed from walking new york streets!

OR

Most of the drivers do not follow the rules and regulations at all!! Do you realize most of the drivers are idiots and should be removed from driving new york streets!

What is the point of these exaggerations and hyperbole? There's nothing true about saying "most" -- period. There are thoughtless people in this city. SHOCKER! There are total jerks and a-holes in this city. SHOCKER! How about stopping with the exaggeration and use some intelligence and calm down.

Do you know why pedestrians injuries and deaths caused by bicycles are very UN-common? It's because the cyclist is also very vulnerable to injury and death in that same collision. Does that mean cyclists are all awesome and polite? NO. Absolutely not. And they need to get better at sharing the road. And do accidents (some preventable) happen? Absolutely.

Do you know why pedestrian AND cyclist injuries and deaths are VERY common? It's because the driver is not vulnerable and is typically FAR less aware of his/her surroundings than even the most oblivious bicycle rider. There are over 100 pedestrians KILLED each year by cars in this city... and hundreds more are injured. get some perspective.
Nov. 22, 2011, 4:40 pm
Liz from Park Slope says:
Sorry, but the cyclists are way out of control.

Am tired of seeing these "Lance Armstrongs" careening through like they are on a speedway. They truly think they own the road.

Not only do they not watch out for pedestrians, but I saw a group one day almost run down a turtle and not giving a rats a#@!
Nov. 22, 2011, 4:49 pm
ty from pps says:
Liz,
Do you mean "the cyclists" or "a particular group of cyclists" -- Do you see how generalizing is not helpful?

Sorry, but women are way out of control. Not only do they beat their children in public, but I saw a group of them one day painting graffiti on a subway wall.
Nov. 22, 2011, 5:04 pm
Phil from Park Slope says:
Cyclists are no more out of control than anyone else. Individuals are considerate, alert and predictable, or they are not. Those who are not, are more likely to sustain injury and/or inflict it upon others.
Nov. 22, 2011, 5:21 pm
Stu from Prospect Park West says:
CARS OUT OF THE PARK. It's a park, not a highway. Right now we're talking about a couple of people with bad but survivable injuries. It won't be long before we're talking about deaths from cars, like that doctor who died when a van hit her in the park. The PPA is really irresponsible if it still allows cars in the park knowing what we know about how dangerous they are on about 99.99% of the city's streets. why would you let them ride through the park right when people want to exercise before and after work and squeeze people into a tiny little bike/runner lane. it's a recipe for disaster.

cars out of the park NOW.
Nov. 22, 2011, 5:23 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
The PPA has no jurisdiction over the road usage in Prospect Park. The Dept of Transportation does. The Alliance is a fundraising organization, nothing more. The public meeting last week was just an opportunity for everyone to vent.
Nov. 22, 2011, 5:55 pm
em from Red Hook says:
Just like to share my perspective as someone who uses the park both for lounging, relaxing, picnics, running, and bicycling. If I'm on foot and headed to central part of the park to hang out, in my whole park visit which may be up to 3 hours, I need to cross the paved loop just twice: once on the way in, once on the way out. And I realize that the loop is one of the very few, scarce places in Brooklyn where cyclists and in-line skaters can do their thing in a car free zone. Kind of sacred really. So, I don't mind simply looking both ways and waiting for the path to be clear to cross the loop. For me, gaining access to acre after acre of free space where I can meander to my hearts content, I don't feel really put-upon to have to use care and sense twice to do so. It's not like the city streets. It's not as if there's a winding course, or inner loops where enjoyment of the park requires constantly crossing this path. As a cyclist in the park, I feel that most people understand this. However, I'm always on the look out for people that feel otherwise.
Nov. 22, 2011, 6:47 pm
Stu from Prospect Park West says:
True, Other Michael, but Emily Lloyd and the PPA have a lot of political clout. They could make a strong recommendation to DOT and the Mayor's office that it's time for cars to be banned from using Prospect Park as a highway. Lloyd has a responsibility to respect and preserve the legacy of the park and the safety of its users. She must make this recommendation, especially considering how many people at that meeting last week (100%) said the cars have to go.

Em, that's the most sensible comment I've ever read here. Thank you.
Nov. 22, 2011, 8:02 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I too think that rules should just be enforced. However, many of the bike zealouts will probably cry foul to that. Don't give me the claim that numerous motorists get away with running red lights especially when there are cameras that catch that and the tickets are mailed to them after being determined by the license plate, so yes, they are caught on this. I say that bicycles should be licensed, registered, and insured, but the only reason why bike zealouts oppose this is mainly due to being tracked like all other vehichles. Again, just because cyclists don't kill or injure as many as most motor vehilces do in a short amount of time doesn't make them any less dangerous. At least with motor vehicles, many will know which way they are comming compared to the cyclists who have the tendency to disobey a lot of traffic lights and signs numerous times.
Nov. 22, 2011, 10:16 pm
chris from PPSW says:
@Stu... how do you figure 100% said cars have to go? Several did say that. But I wouldn't take someone speaking out of turn, asking who wants to keep cars in the park, and getting ignored (no hands raised) because he was out of turn as concurrence with his proposal.

There is much that needs to be fixed here and hopefully the task force will hear all concerns, gather facts and present useful and balanced recommendations to DOT and NYPD.

I am not saying that I am in favor of keeping cars in the park. But as Shawn Campbell of CB 14 indicated, there are others in Brooklyn who have an interest in the park's usage who need to be included in the discussion.

From a selfish standpoint, I'd love to have cars out and cyclists slowed down and pedestrians more alert to keep me and my children safe and able to use the roads too.

I'm sure that early morning when it was only me and my 4yo having a momentary struggle crossing the road and a single cyclist barreling down the hill chose to curse at us instead of slow down or veer safely around was an aberration.

But anyone who chooses to comes down too heavily in favor or against a legitimate user of the park shows their bias and is not helping to find a solution that serves the whole community.

As another pointed out, if you kick the cars out of the park, where do they go? PPSW and Bartel Pritchard also can be tricky for pedestrians and cyclists when car traffic increases.

As Emily Lloyd said, there's probably no silver bullet solution. But let's keep working together to find the best solutions that meets the needs of the whole community.
Nov. 23, 2011, 1:58 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
"As another pointed out, if you kick the cars out of the park, where do they go? PPSW and Bartel Pritchard also can be tricky for pedestrians and cyclists when car traffic increases."

What if cars were never allowed in the park. Imagine the outrage is someone were to propose that the carriage paths be used to relieve the traffic along the perimeter of the park.

Everyone resists change, especially in Brooklyn
Nov. 23, 2011, 5:32 am
Stu from PPW says:
Car driving is not a legitimate use of a park.
Nov. 23, 2011, 10:34 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Why is it whenever there are complaint about cyclists breaking the laws, the bike zealouts always come up not only trying to defend their brothers in arms, but also start making anti-car remarks to avoid the issue? Just because bicycles don't use emissions, doesn't give them a right to constantly flout the laws. As a registered motorist, I don't condone the act of reckless or drunk drivers, but I hardly hear responsible cyclists calling out their own kind. If breaking the laws is so wrong, then follow them yourselves before telling others what to do. If you don't practice what you preach, you are no better than the ones you hate. Besides, claiming that others should do what you but not as you do is nothing more than a statement for double standards.
Nov. 23, 2011, 4:48 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Very nice Tal,

But is anyone defending lawlessness? Where?

And by the way, when was the last time you were in Prospect Park.
Nov. 23, 2011, 6:03 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, I hardly ever hear those on the shrine of bike zealoutry known as Streetsblog every call out such cyclists especially when they are enablers to such. Everytime there is a call to crack down on such acts, they cry foul on that, and you are probably no exception to that. I have been in Prospect not that long ago, so you can't say that I have never been there, but that really has very little to do with the discussion.
Nov. 23, 2011, 7:31 pm
F Loring from Kensington says:
Why would Tal defend cars in a park? What kind of moron is he?
Nov. 24, 2011, 1:35 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

What??

Are you saying that I am defending "cyclists breaking the laws".

Not me.
Nov. 24, 2011, 8:23 pm
nancy from coney says:
thank u for putting up the barracade those cyclist drive like crazy people i was was in the park the other day and almost got run down and the bikers get angry when ur trying 2 cross and they have 2 slow down hey u guys this isnt a race track the park is 4 everyone get over ur yuppie selves now if u can only do things about the jerks that ride on t he sidewalks and run u down and dart in front of ur cars when u drive
Nov. 24, 2011, 8:29 pm
So from Brooklyn says:
Get Tal out of the park.
Nov. 24, 2011, 8:35 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
F Loring, the real morons are the ones who believe that anyone who rides a bicycle and flouts the law constantly should go around unpunished for their actions like you.
Nov. 25, 2011, 5:54 pm
F Loring from Kensington says:
Did I say that? Tal is a moron.
Nov. 26, 2011, 8:44 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

Who is saying that "anyone who rides a bicycle and flouts the law constantly should go around unpunished"??

Who?

When?
Nov. 26, 2011, 10:58 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
F Loring, where I come from, you don't call someone who disagrees with you a moron.

Other Michael, Streetsblog is sheer proof that they enable such behaviour for such cyclists, and they never seem to regret that, not to mention hardly mention it as news despite all the anti-car news they have.
Nov. 26, 2011, 5:40 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

Can you just cut and paste some words from Streetblog where they support "flouting the law"?
Nov. 26, 2011, 8:28 pm
F Loring from NYC says:
Tal, you come from a place with the word pleasant in the name, so even a moron is treated nicely. This is Brooklyn. Come visit one time.
Nov. 27, 2011, 3:03 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, don't call someone a moron just for not agreeing with you. I find that very insulting and a hit below the belt. Then again, what I am supposed to expect from bike zealouts who in reality happen to be cowards that will look for anything to have an excuse to be above the law. As a native of Israel, I don't mean harm to anyone unless they attack me first like Hamas, which happens to be you F Loring. How old are you anyway, because I find that very childish to be taking cheapshots? Where I come from, only those that are as dumb of George W. Bush and Sarah Palin use the word moron on those that don't agree with them. As for Streetsblog, I have hardly ever heard them call out cyclists that constantly flout the law, and they have a history of defending Critical Mass by even condemning police enforcement on them on hurting their brothers in arms.
Nov. 27, 2011, 9:43 pm
Carla from Pros. Hts says:
Is Tal for real? Hamas? Can the Brooklyn Paper do an interview with him?
Nov. 28, 2011, 11:22 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Here is the bottom line to it all. Explain why it is wrong to have cyclists follow the rules as well as recquire them to be licensed, registered, and insured? All I hear is mostly excuses rather than reasons. Even if a website such as Streetsblog does condemn such acts, they do it more as a slap on the wrist while wishing the worst for motorists all the time. What bike zealouts call a ticket blitz, I call it just enforcing the law. As for calling me a moron, I find that very unprofessional and childish. In the words of Michael Moore, "You are nothing but a whacko attacko."
Nov. 28, 2011, 5:59 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

Because a bike goes 25 miles an hour and weighs much less than is passenger. The likelihood of anyone but the rider getting injured is minor compared to a car

and

many bikes are toys ridden by children

and

complaining about unreasonable enforcement is not "flouting the law"
Nov. 29, 2011, 5:36 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, I could explain to you and other bike zealouts why cyclists should start obeying the law, but understanding it has as much of a chance as the Muslim Brotherhood does to recognzing Israel as an existing country for the Jews.
Nov. 29, 2011, 6:46 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

What???
Nov. 29, 2011, 7:45 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, that couldn't have been me posting at 6:46pm yesterday b/c I was on the toilet suffering from a bad case of ——. So Other Michael, I think it is disengeneous of you to reply to your own imposterziation. Back to the issue. The predictable outrage from the bike zealouts only further prooves my point that they have no wish to be subjected to basic rules of the road, even when they kill people and use taxpayer dollars payed by taxpayers like yours truly. On a side note, it is another example that change is not always good. Hamas stands for change, Israel stands for status quo, but who gets the criticism? I have openly advocated for rebuilding the twin towers exactly as they were before only taller to reconstruct the Lower Manhattan skyline and to proove to terrorists that they did not win. Likewise, these bike lanes are clearly leading to uneccessary conflict and potential death, which can be avoided if they are removed and converted to motorists use which are the vast silent majority. Irregaurdless, I think that only by sticking to the issues can you have a strong argument, and when you guys impersonate me all you do is weaken your argument.
Nov. 30, 2011, 3:17 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

What???

What???
Dec. 1, 2011, 6:32 am

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