Eighth Ave and Prospect Park West should go both ways

for The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

The people have spoken — and they want two-way streets to fix the mess of Grand Army Plaza and the dangerous “speedways” of Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West.

A community survey released this month by the Park Slope Civic Council shows that the neighborhood believes that converting those currently one-way highways into two-way local streets would not only increase pedestrian and cyclist safety, but solve the traffic snarl on Union Street, between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park.

The danger stems from cars exiting off the Prospect Expressway and barreling up Eighth Avenue — a shortcut to Flatbush Avenue and the Manhattan Bridge beyond. Several participants in the survey called the one-way avenue a speedway and said that crossing it is like putting your life into your hands.

Some attempts have been made in the past to alleviate the problem, but some Slopers say it has been too little.

“The Department of Transportation has added traffic signals and has worked on signal timing to make conditions on these avenues safer,” said Michael Cairl, chair of the Civic Council’s Livable Streets Committee, which led a neighborhood-wide workshop in February.

“But the consensus is that much more needs to be done,” Cairl said.

The two-way “solution” has been a major part of many redesign plans for Grand Army Plaza, including several finalists in last year’s Design Trust for Public Spaces competition.

“We’re convinced that restoring two-way traffic flow to Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West is the best way to … make these streets safer for all users,” said Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors.

The conversions were not the only suggestions made. Other participants want to close off Union Street completely in order to reunite Grand Army Plaza with the rest of Prospect Park, another idea popular from the “Reinventing Grand Army Plaza” competition.

Updated 5:12 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

J says:
I've found that northbound 8th Avenue crawls compared to, say, 4th Avenue because of the way the lights are timed. Couldn't speed on it unless I blew the lights... Anyone else?
March 25, 2009, 8:43 am
A O from BKLYN says:
Two way in the circle?!?! how would i exit from the middle if i needed too... with out running in to other cars? The one way circle is enough of a mess; I cant even imagine it as a two way circle. two way streets should run until like one block befor the circle and the circle should remaine a oneway; otherwise wait and see all the accidents that pile up!! And any additonal "turn signals" would only slow traffic down...
March 25, 2009, 10:33 am
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Thanks, BP, for writing about this.

J, the light timings control the speeds of the first cars in the "platoon" when lights turn green. The problem comes from cars trying to catch up and avoid being caught at lights that turn red. In just a half hour or so of recording speeds with a radar gun, we caught cars hitting speeds as high as 49, and a number going well above the speed limit.

AO, the circle would not be two-way. Northbound traffic on PPW would all have to go right, into the circle, like traffic entering from Flatbush, Eastern Parkway or Vanderbilt. Longer term, there's a push on, led by the Grand Army Plaza Coalition (, to further simplify traffic movements in the Plaza through a major redesign.

Please consider signing the petition at; there's also much more information there about why we believe this is a good idea.
March 25, 2009, 11:21 am
jeff says:
horrible idea! guaranteed , there will be kids hit crossing PPW into the Park with 2 way traffic. Nobody on my block wants it and we are signing a petition in opposition . Stay tuned.
March 25, 2009, 11:41 am
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
That logic doesn't stand up. Currently, there are few traffic lights on PPW, meaning fewer safe places to cross. Yes, if a child is going to cross at a non-signaled intersection, he or she only has to look north for cars. But some of those cars are traveling at highway speeds.

By converting Prospect Park West to two-way, it will add several more traffic lights -- meaning more safe places to cross. Reducing PPW to one lane in each direction will also shorten the crossing. And traffic will be slowed down considerably; since vehicle speed is the biggest factor in pedestrian injuries, slowing cars down is the most important thing we can do. From the US DOT:

"The idea that the faster a striking vehicle is traveling, the more damage is done to a struck pedestrian has been documented in a number of studies. One estimate is that about 5 percent of pedestrians would die when struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph at impact; about 40 percent would die for vehicles traveling 30 mph at impact; 80 percent at 40 mph; and nearly 100 percent would die when struck by vehicles traveling at speeds over 50 mph at impact.

"One reviewed study examined about 1,000 urban crashes with pedestrians younger than 20 years of age. It found that compared to crashes with vehicle travel speeds of 10-19 mph, the risk of serious injury (or death) was 2.1 for speeds of 20-29 mph, 7.2 for speeds of 30-39 mph, and 30.7 for speeds of 40 mph or more."

We can disagree about the best way to achieve this, but inaction and the status quo is not an option.
March 25, 2009, 12:21 pm
Dane from Park Slope says:
Hurray. It's long past time to make 8th and PPW into two-way streets. This would provide numerous benefits to the neighborhood.
March 25, 2009, 4:26 pm
David Alquist from Park Slope says:
I'm in Garfield Place and my wife and kids walk 8th Avenue to the subway daily. I can't count the number of times they've come home saying they were almost mowed down by insane drivers trying to beat the lights at 8th & Union, blocking the crosswalks there, and also "rat-running" up Berkeley Place to get around the Union St. bottleneck.

My family and I fully support the campaign and we urge everyone in Park Slope to do so as well.
March 25, 2009, 4:54 pm
freddy from slope says:
thats rat runner sir, you insensitive clod.
March 25, 2009, 7:03 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: