New Prospect Park traffic lights give cyclists the green light

Democracy in action: Brooklynites vote to stop Prospect Park puddle
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

The city is giving Prospect Park cyclists the green light — literally.

Stoplights on the park’s loop will remain green during all car-free hours unless pedestrians press buttons to activate reds in a new street set-up intended to bring order to the sometimes-chaotic roadway.

The push-button system means cyclists won’t need to come to a halt at desolate intersections — and pedestrians will gain a sense of control at crosswalks, pedal-pushers and park officials say.

“[It’s] another great step towards increasing predictability and safety for all,” said Prospect Park administrator Emily Lloyd, who heads the road-sharing panel of park advocates, cyclists, and cops that hatched the plan.

Supporters of the new stoplight strategy say it will give cyclists fewer red lights — making bikers more likely to respect the ones they encounter.

“It’s a win-win,” said Joanna Smith, a biker and walker. “It’s great that cyclists don’t have to be inconvenienced by unnecessary signals and it makes them more aware of other people in the park.”

The plan comes after several serious bike-on-pedestrian crashes — two of which left victims with serious brain injuries — that sparked a lawsuit against the city.

It also comes after cops wrote at least 188 cycling tickets in the park during a four-month period last winter, many targeting bikers who ran red lights.

With fewer red lights in the park, the crackdown against cyclists may be coming to an end — but some park-goers fear that having green lights as a default could encourage bikers to go too fast.

“It gives bikers free reign — I just hope they actually stop,” said Nancy Moccaldi, whose close friend Linda Cohen was placed in a medically induced coma after a crash with a cyclist.

The Department of Transportation, which last week also completed a new park roadway design that gives roughly equal space to cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians, has already installed four new signals at crosswalks on West Drive near Second, Third, Ninth and 12th streets with pedestrian-prompted “walk” signs.

More of the signals will be installed this month, which pleases transportation advocates, who say the street-crossing devices empower park-goers who travel on two wheels — and two feet.

“It helps everyone share space in the park safely,” said Michael Murphy of Transportation Alternatives.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.