De Blasio Announces Prospect Park To Become Permanently Car-Free

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The war for Prospect Park’s loop drive – east and west – between motorists utilizing the roadway to get between Manhattan and neighborhoods south of the park, and bicyclists and joggers ended today with Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing that the entire loop will become permanently car-free.

The change follows the park’s first car-free summer, which was done on a trial basis, and will go into full effect on January 2, 2018.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

“Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s backyard. I married Chirlane here. This is where my kids played little league. And I have always wanted it to be the safe, quiet refuge for Brooklyn’s families that it was intended to be.  Restoring Prospect Park as a car-free oasis will improve the lives of the millions who use this park today and of generations to come,” said de Blasio.

During the car-free summer — from July 17 until September 11th — the park’s new arrangement was popular with the park’s walkers, joggers, and cyclists who use the loop drive.  The Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates those recreational users outnumber cars during morning rush hours 1,000 to just 300. After Labor Day weekend, New York City received petitions with more than 1,100 signatures calling for the return of full-time car-free hours for the entire park.

While the analysis of the car-free trial is still being finalized, its preliminary results clearly indicate no alternative driving route experienced more than a minimal delay, with most experiencing no change in travel times whatsoever. Based on that data, officials are now confident a fully car-free park can be implemented without adverse impact.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

“I am excited to enjoy a car-free Prospect Park, alongside the millions of Brooklynites and visitors who enjoy the recreation and relaxation that our borough’s crown jewel provides every day. This decision will significantly enhance the experience of cyclists, runners, and walkers in this premiere open space. My administration has worked hard with community advocates to make Brooklyn a safer place to raise healthy children and families, and we can now add a car-free Prospect Park to our growing list of success stories,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.

In 2015, Mayor de Blasio announced that the West Drive of Prospect Park would be permanently car-free for the first time since the inception of the automobile. In July of this year, DOT announced it would for the first time coordinate summer car-free hours with NYC Parks and the Prospect Park Alliance.

On September 17th, the East Drive from Park Circle to Grand Army Plaza was re-opened to vehicular traffic during weekday morning rush hours (7-9 a.m.); starting on January 2, 2018, the first workday of the New Year, the entire park will be permanently car-free.  In the weeks before the permanent car-free hours, the City will once again publicize the change to drivers using social media as well as VMS boards posted at the Park Circle entrance of the park.

After the January car-free hours take effect, DOT expects to closely monitor traffic around the park for changes in traffic patterns, and expects to adjust traffic-signal timing and make other changes as needed.

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon
City Council Member Laurie Cumbo

The move drew raves from a number of Brooklyn lawmakers including Senator Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Downtown Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill) and City Councilmembers Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington), Mathieu Eugene (D-Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, Ditmas Park) and Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights).

City Council Member Brad Lander
City Council Member Mathieu Eugene

“Joggers, cyclists, seniors, and families who love Prospect Park will all rejoice at today’s news. Dogs, horses, squirrels — and I guess maybe even cows, too. After many years of tireless advocacy and step-by-step implementation, I’m thrilled that our park will officially be car-free,” said Lander. “Our refuge in the heart of Brooklyn is now safer and more peaceful. What a great way to celebrate Prospect Park’s 150th birthday!”

“I want to commend Mayor de Blasio for spearheading this initiative to make Prospect Park permanently car-free. As a long time advocate for the preservation of “Brooklyn’s Backyard,” I believe this is an important step towards ensuring that the park is a safe and welcoming environment for pedestrians. By working together, we are making this historic green space healthier and more peaceful for future generations of New Yorkers,” said Eugene.

Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue also thanked de Blasio and the city for the move.

“As Brooklyn’s Backyard, it is important to do all we can to ensure the Park is a safe and tranquil destination for the millions of visitors who depend upon it for recreation and relaxation,” said Donoghue.