Streets bordering Prospect Park to open to pedestrians

Runners and cyclists share space in Prospect Park.
File photo by Todd Maisel

Roadways bordering Brooklyn’s Backyard will be closed to traffic starting May 2 as part of a plan to open streets to pedestrians and allow more space for social distancing, the mayor announced Friday.

The city will close Prospect Park West from Third Street to Garfield Place in Park Slope, and Parkside Avenue from Park Circle to Ocean Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, from 8 am to 8 pm daily, according to City Hall. 

The roadways are the first of 40 miles the city hopes to close to traffic in May, with the stated goal of 100 miles throughout the course of the COVID-19 crisis. 

“The open streets are going to be another way we encourage social distancing because the warmer weather tells us we’re going to have a new challenge,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his May 1 briefing.

No through-traffic will be allowed on the streets, with all traffic limited to local deliveries, pick-ups and drop-offs, city fleet vehicles, and emergency vehicles, officials said.

The mayor initially resisted the open streets program after a short-lived pilot that closed down less than five miles of roads across the city — including Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn. 

De Blasio cited poor attendance and a strain on police resources as his reasoning for resisting the program — but eventually gave in after weeks of pressure from the City Council and safe streets advocates. 

“Today is a great first step and an exciting day for an entire city starved of adequate open space,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson in a statement. 

The mayor also took heat for his daily 11-mile caravan trips to Prospect Park for walks — despite living in a mansion within a park on the Upper East Side — with one Brooklynite lambasting him and First Lady Chirlane McCray in a video posted to Twitter last weekend as they strolled through the greenspace.  

The city also announced 4.45 miles of streets within parks that will open — only 0.05 of which are within Kings County, in Bushwick’s pint-sized Callahan Kelly Playground.