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