It was a ride in the park — and history in the making!
Dozens of bikers rode escort to the last car allowed on Prospect Park’s East Drive on Friday morning, celebrating the unofficial start of Mayor DeBlasio’s edict permanently banishing gas-guzzlers from the green space.
A Windsor Terrace resident claimed the distinction of being the last motorist to cruise Brooklyn’s Backyard before park staffers closed the road at 9 am, and the local said he couldn’t be happier to drive the meadow into its car-free future.
“I think this is great,” said Frank Noll, 66. “It makes the point that this is a park and it’s going back to the way it should be.”
DeBlasio’s ban officially kicks in on Jan. 2, but because vehicles are already forbidden from the park on weekends and holidays, including New Year’s Day, civilians’ last window to legally rumble through the green space was from 7 to 9 am on Friday.
Bitter-cold temperatures and biting winds did not stop anti-car advocates from Transportation Alternatives and New York Cycle Club from assembling a sizeable fleet of cyclists for the early-morning escort, a sign of how important Hizzoner’s ban is to bikers, one rider said.
“This is one of the only things that would get me out here on a day with this freezing weather,” said Park Sloper Carly Smith, 36. “Celebrating the return of the park to the community is a really fun thing.”
The swarm of cyclists followed Noll in his 2001 Subaru Forester on the roughly mile-and-a-half journey along the East Drive from Park Circle to Grand Army Plaza, where the local departed his pedal-pushing honor guard as its members waved and shouted, “Bye cars!”
DeBlasio’s permanent ban on East Drive traffic followed a summer-long prohibition on cars traveling the road, and his 2015 edict booting vehicles from Prospect’s West Drive, which Kensington-bound motorists once could cruise during the evening rush on weekdays.
But progressive legislation may not be enough to keep four-wheelers from entering the park — earlier in December, a driver illegally riding along the West Drive seriously injured a jogger when he collided with her in an early-morning hit-and-run.