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Amateur activism: Child cyclists join parents, officials on P’Park ride pushing for car-free meadow

Car free: From left, Wyatt Vogel, Paul Vogel, and Sabina Hirshfield were among the kids and adults who rode through Prospect Park on Columbus Day to advocate for a permanent ban on all cars from the meadow.
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These youngsters are pedaling change!

Kings County kids strapped on helmets and hopped on bikes for a ride through Prospect Park’s meager rush-hour traffic on Monday, dedicating the morning of their Columbus-Day holiday to advocate for a ban of cars from Brooklyn’s Backyard. But the pint-sized progressives, who parents claim loathe sharing the park with drivers, still fell victim to an age-old political maneuver in making their statement, according to a mom.

“There was a little bribe involved,” said Hilda Cohen, a Fort Greene mom of two who promised breakfast burritos as a reward. “But that’s kids.”

Some 25 children, parents, and transit advocates joined Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) to pedal along the meadow’s East and West drives to push for the vehicular prohibition. This summer, Mayor DeBlasio enacted a temporary ban on cars from the East Drive following their permanent exile from the West Drive in 2015, but the road reopened to early-morning, Downtown-bound traffic last month while the city studies the potential impact of an indefinite ban.

Anti-car proponents and park lovers argue that the vehicles put cyclists and pedestrians at risk and for little benefit, according to a transit advocate, who said the recent East-Drive closure minimally affected surrounding traffic.

“There weren’t really any issues with the trial closing,” said Eric McClure, executive director of political action committee, StreetsPAC. “There are not a lot of people driving through the park at this point, and they’ll be able to find other ways to get around when the road closes.”

Most tots 12 and under may not be jumping out of bed to push for legislative change, but kids can feel their parents’ frustration over pedaling beside motorists in the park, Cohen said, and know the lawn would be safer without moving vehicles in it.

“I get really crazy and scared when there are cars in the park, and they’re thinking about that. They said the park was much better as there was no traffic in it,” she said. “ ‘You don’t yell as much, mom,’ they said. Kids totally get it.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:54 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Holly from Fort Greene says:
Sorry, but bicycles are vehicles too! My unborn child is protesting wheeled objects in the park. Why can't these people just walk? Their desperation for speed is dangerous. I don't want to be hit by that child as cycles recklessly through the park! Remove bicycles - this park is only for walking! On feet!
Oct. 10, 2017, 8:28 am
Resident from Brooklyn says:
DOT needs to close this now. I heard they will wait until the spring, which is too long to wait. Why should people on foot and on bikes have to be exposed to noisy, pollution-spewing cars for another day?
Oct. 10, 2017, 9:35 am

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