The city is still fine-tuning its Prospect Park West bike lane — this time installing granite blocks so that drivers won’t use no-parking zones along the 20-block strip as de facto loading zones.
Under the plan, pairs of two-and-a-half by five-feet blocks will be installed in eight of 11 “pedestrian safety zones” that occupy crosswalks along Prospect Park West.
The no-car zones were intended to give pedestrians a place to wait and get a good look at oncoming cars and cyclists. But drivers have pounced on the spaces, using them for parking, loading and even vending ice cream.
“These areas must be kept clear for pedestrian circulation and for visibility between cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bike path,” the Department of Transportation wrote in a letter to Community Board 6. “We believe the [blocks] will effectively deter and discourage any further vehicular intrusion in the pedestrian spaces.”
But critics of the two-lane bike lane stretching from Grand Army Plaza to Bartel Pritchard Square — which resulted in the loss of 22 parking spaces and one lane of traffic — say that the “auto intrusion” is yet another example of a project that has created more problems than solutions.
“The reason cars are parking in the islands … is because [the city] has eliminated one lane from the roadway,” said Czerny Auyang, who lives nearby on Eighth Avenue. “Whereas in the past, cars could’ve pulled into areas with fire hydrants, these areas are now not accessible because of the new bike lane. … Where else could these vehicles go?”
But a Department of Transportation spokesman noted that there are proper loading zones at Ninth Street and Prospect Park West, plus two other weekend-only spaces — a number that some critics say is inadequate.
The improperly parked cars are only the latest issue to arise as a result of the bike lane, which — depending on whom you ask — has either exacerbated traffic problems on the stretch of roadway, or retarded the speeds of reckless drivers.
The additions to the pedestrian spaces are expected to be implemented by early fall.