Traffic barrels removed from Prospect Park bike lane

The city has installed dozens of cones on West Lake Drive in order to slow cyclists in Prospect Park — after two nearly fatal crashes.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

City transportation officials removed dozens orange traffic barrels intended to slow cyclists on a crash-prone hill in Prospect Park — and now they want your advice on what to do next.

The Department of Transportation yanked out the drum-sized cones from West Lake Drive late last month due to “anticipated snow removal” needs, an agency spokesman said.

The street will remain cone-free until the city gets more feedback on how to fix the treacherous slope — which has played host to several near-fatal bike-pedestrian collisions — at a public meeting on Tuesday.

“It’s a very tricky situation,” said Nancy Moccaldi, whose friend Linda Cohen suffered brain damage after a collision on the hill.

The cones appeared on the roadway as part of a pilot program in November at the request of park officials after cyclists struck Cohen and another pedestrian in separate incidents, leaving them both with head injuries.

Several more crashes occurred at the site, near the Vanderbilt Playground, prompting cyclists to fire back that the traffic cones unnecessarily narrowed the lane, giving them less room to avoid obstacles, and obstructed vision, making it harder to see pedestrians before it’s too late.

Some park advocates suggested banning cars from the park, then correcting a series of confusing bike symbols on the street, which are only supposed to apply during limited weekday hours when the park is open to automobiles. Traffic engineers also suggested installing rumble strips — essentially speed bumps for cyclists — near the top of the hill or making the bike path curve before the descent.

There’s no lack of possible solutions — but some park users say there’s also no simple quick-fix.

“There’s no easy solution,” Moccaldi said. “We’re back to square one.”

The Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force will take up the issue at 6 pm on Feb. 28. [Meet at the Prospect Park picnic house, just south of the Third Street entrance, (646) 393-9031]

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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