Flatbush residents: Traffic changes in Prospect Park could hurt us

A new plan eliminates a lane of car traffic to make room for more cyclists on the Prospect Park loop.
Courtesy of Prospect Park Road Sharing Taskforce

Flatbush residents want the city to hit the brakes and take another look at its plan to remove a car lane from Prospect Park’s Park Drive — a proposal they fear will cause a massive traffic backup on neighborhood streets.

The Prospect Park Road Sharing Taskforce and the Prospect Park Alliance said the plan to shrink Park Drive from two lanes to one would improve safety conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, but Community Board 14 members say motorists rely on park roads, even if they can only use them four hours a day.

Removing a lane will cause more headaches than it will save, believe CB14 members, who represent residents living on the south side of the park and along Parkside Avenue.

“We see the park as a relief valve for traffic and we’re worried about what will happen if the city takes it away,” said Morris Sacks, CB14’s transportation committee chairman.

CB14 Chairman Alvin Berk called on the city to study how removing a driving lane in the park will effect traffic on Ocean and Parkside avenues several weeks ago — but has yet to hear back from the Department of Transportation.

“We do not know if there is going to be an increase in traffic, but we do feel that it’s legitimate for us to find out,” said Berk, who said that any changes to the park’s traffic patterns could force some of the 700 autos that use the park each hour in the morning onto surrounding streets and cause gridlock. “We have an interest in protecting the concerns of the residents who live on those streets.”

But the Department of Transportation says previous studies did not show that a park lane closure would create a traffic backup. Drivers who enter the park on weekdays from 7 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 7 pm should expect to add about seven seconds to their trips, a spokesman said.

Still, Berk is hoping that the city honors his requests for an additional study.

“It’s of legitimate interest to the public,” he said.

But Berk may be running out of time: the city wants to implement its plans for Park Drive in the spring. The city also wants to close the entrance to the park at Ocean and Parkside avenues to vehicles when it redesigns the intersection this summer.

But Berk says making so many changes to the park at one time is wrong-headed.

“From a scientist’s perspective you shouldn’t change two variables at the same time,” he said. “How are you going to know what’s what?”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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