Runners would get their own “lane” beside Prospect Park’s busy — and hard-on-the-knees — roadway under a new plan the city is considering.
The literally and figuratively groundbreaking design calls for adding a jogging path on the interior of the historic loop, where cyclists, walkers and motorists are expected to get separate, but equal-sized lanes this spring.
The new running artery would formalize a makeshift path currently trod by some trail runners, replacing the thin, muddy jogging route with a permanent, yet-to-be determined material that’s softer on the joints than asphalt, like track turf, dirt or bark dust.
The proposal has prompted cheers from the borough’s Asics-sporting set, who are calling it the best idea since the invention of the treadmill.
“It creates a space that’s more safe and less crowded,” said runner Lee Silverman, who owns JackRabbit Sports and sits on a panel of park advocates that conceived the plan. “I’d love to see a softer surface for running.”
Other park-goers said the jogger’s paradise would help prevent collisions with cyclists on the road and pesky ankle-twists on the bridle trail.
“It would be great,” said the Prospect Park Track Club’s Michael Ring, who hurt himself after tripping on a rock on the horse path, which runs along the roadway on the Windsor Terrace side of the park. “[The bridle trail] is full of rocks — and the horses destroy it.”
The plan comes amidst a proposal for a revolutionary Prospect Park roadway redesign — unveiled last week by a road safety task force — that calls for removing a lane of car traffic and giving the space to walkers and cyclists. It also follows several near-fatal crashes between bikers and foot travelers on the street.
The jogging path is being considered as part of the design’s “second phase,” said park spokesman Paul Nelson, who noted that details for the trail have not been hammered out yet.
Prospect Park Administrator Emily Lloyd, who also heads the Prospect Park Alliance, said last week that “a jogging lane on park landscape” is potentially feasible — although it might not run the complete 3.35-mile loop because of a few natural obstacles.
Preservationists acknowledge the plan will affect the park’s look and character to some extent, but not too dramatically.
It’s the kind of proposal that might have won the backing of running legends like Fred Lebow, but what about genius Prospect Park designers Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux?
“I would say they would go for it,” said Brooklyn historian John Manbeck. “They intended the parks to be for the people.”
Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.