It has finally happened. After years of buzzing, Prospect Park will be entirely, absolutely, 100 percent car-free—for the rest of the summer, that is.
As it currently stands, the park is open to northbound traffic during morning rush hour, but starting July 17, northbound commuters will have to make alternative plans; until September 11, the Brooklyn idyll will reserved exclusively for cyclists, runners, walkers, strollers, and dogs.
“From getting married there to being a little-league parent inside Prospect Park, I can attest that it is a cool, even magical refuge this time of year,” said park enthusiast Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “As we already saw when we made the Prospect Park West Drive car-free two years ago, a safer and quieter park improves the safety and enjoyment for thousands of park users—and has a negligible effect on traffic outside the park.”
Park-goers can “rejoice during these next couple warmer months in a safer and quieter park,” agreed DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, while NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver noted that “kids, joggers, ball players, picnickers, and amblers” will—for the duration of the two-month pilot, at least—get to soak in the “cleaner air” in relative peace.
This is not de Blasio’s first attempt to ease cars out of the park. In June 2015, the Mayor closed the West Drive of Prospect Park to cars permanently (barring emergency service and park maintenance vehicles). Since then, the release says, the DOT has “received a number of requests from the community and local officials to expand car-free hours to all of Prospect Park.” Ask, and ye shall receive, apparently. (At least, for the summer.)
But what will become of the car commuters? The release notes that when the city (permanently) closed the West Drive, the DOT’s studies showed the most affected alternative southbound route saw an increased travel time of … less than a minute. The new and temporary East Drive closure is expected to be similarly non-disruptive, but the DOT will be collecting data to track how the alternate northbound routes actually play out during morning rush hour.
“A key part of our mission is engaging the community and enhancing the park experience,” said Sue Donoghue, President of the Prospect Park Alliance, in a statement. “[W]e look forward to seeing how this works for all park users.”
- Some Roads in Central & Prospect Parks Will Forever Ban Cars [Curbed NY]
- More Car-Free Prospect Park Talk [Curbed NY]