Sharing the pavement: Cars return to Prospect Park’s East Drive as summer-long ban ends

Sharing the pavement: Cars return to Prospect Park’s East Drive as summer-long ban ends
Community News Group / Leah Lu

It’s a park with rides again — for now.

A summer-long ban on cars in Prospect Park ended Sept. 11, allowing rush-hour motorists to return to the green space’s East Drive as the city decides whether to permanently exile vehicles from Brooklyn’s Backyard, a move that would make the meadow safer for man — and his best friend — according to a dog walker.

“Everyone that I know is for the car ban,” said Otto Avila, 50, who frequently walks pups in the park. “I don’t have to worry about getting run over by a car, and the dogs don’t, too.”

The ban, which began on July 17, eliminated a weekday window from 7 to 9 am during which Downtown-bound drivers were permitted to share East Drive with joggers and bicyclists as an alternate, morning-rush route.

It followed Mayor DeBlasio’s 2015 edict prohibiting car traffic from Prospect Park’s West Drive, a Coney Island-bound, evening-rush detour that was generally less traveled than its sister road on the Prospect Lefferts Gardens side of the lawn.

The city tested the East Drive car ban in the summer because there is less traffic that season — about 300 cars per hour, down from 400 in the fall. But it still hoped to source enough data to determine whether axing vehicle access to the road at all times would significantly congest surrounding thoroughfares.

The Department of Transportation will keep surveying the East Drive’s effect on area traffic now that it has reopened, and the city is soliciting input from local pols and other stakeholders before making a final decision, according to mayoral spokesman Ben Sarle.

If Hizzoner ultimately decides to permanently ban cars from the park, he’ll find a lot of support amongst locals who reside near the beloved green space, according to a Kensington mom.

“The park is an escape,” said Gloria St. Cyr, who walks there with her daughter. “I like what the mayor is doing. He’s looking out for people and their safety.”

But many motorists disagree, arguing that two hours of early-morning traffic are a small price to pay for easing Brooklynites rush-hour commutes.

“It’s reasonable to give access just for the sake of easing congestion,” said Pete Gomori, a 64-year-old Kensington resident and driver.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixs[email protected]glocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.