Mayor de Blasio Announces Prospect Park Will go Entirely Car-Free for the First Time this Summer
July 10, 2017
East Drive from Park Circle to Grand Army Plaza, now open to vehicles during weekday morning rush hours, will be car-free for two months from Monday, July 17 through the weekend after Labor Day
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Prospect Park in Brooklyn would go entirely car-free for the first time this summer. Currently open to northbound traffic during the morning rush-hour, Prospect Park will be car-free 24/7 from Monday, July 17 until Monday, September 11th, the weekend after Labor Day. Starting today, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), in coordination with NYC Parks, will publicize Prospect Park East Drive’s new hours to affected drivers.
“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 Mayor de Blasio. “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. We are thrilled to bring even more of Prospect Park to even more of Brooklyn for the next couple months.”
“We are delighted to announce that Prospect Park for the rest of the summer will be completely car-free for the first time,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Cyclists, joggers and pedestrians, young and old, can rejoice during these next couple warmer months in a safer and quieter park.”
“New Yorkers look to their parks for green space and fresh air, especially in the heat of the summer,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Completely removing car traffic from Prospect Park turns one of our most historic sites back over to the kids, joggers, ball players, picnickers, and amblers who love it. This summer, all visitors to Prospect Park will enjoy cleaner air, improved safety – and peace and quiet.”
In 2015, Mayor de Blasio announced that the West Drive of Prospect Park would be permanently car-free. Since that time, DOT has received a number of requests from the community and local officials to expand car-free hours to all of Prospect Park, which during the summer sees increased recreational use, including by several children’s day camps. DOT is coordinating its efforts this summer with NYC Parks and the Prospect Park Alliance, and will be publicizing the change to drivers over the next week, using social media as well as VMS boards posted at the Park Circle entrance of the park.
The East Drive of Prospect Park is currently open to northbound traffic between Park Circle and Grand Army Plaza from 7-9 a.m. on weekdays (except holidays). According to DOT data, vehicle volumes on the East Drive are consistently lower during summer months: during a peak morning hour in the summer, fewer than 300 vehicles use the East Drive (a decline from over 400 hourly vehicles on a fall morning) while during a peak morning hour, the drive is used by nearly 1,000 pedestrians, joggers and cyclists.
The summertime car-free hours are also anticipated to have a negligible effect on travel times on alternative routes on streets around the park. After the closure of the West Drive in June 2015, DOT studies showed that the most affected alternative southbound route saw an increased travel time of less than a minute after the West Drive went car-free, where other afternoon drivers actually saw travel times improve. During the period of this summer’s East Drive closure, DOT will similarly collect data and conduct ongoing observations to determine the effect on alternate northbound routes during the morning rush period.
"This summer, both sides of Prospect Park will enjoy the benefits of being car-free, a positive enhancement to my continuing efforts toward advancing park equity,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Initiating this pilot has been a goal of my administration, community advocates, and local residents for a number of years. Parks are for people, and people from all across Brooklyn and beyond will enjoy a safer and more serene Prospect Park as a result of this initiative."
“For countless New Yorkers, our city’s green spaces are a refuge. New Yorkers shouldn’t have to worry about looking over their shoulder for on-coming traffic if they are out on a bike ride, going for a run, or taking a walk with their kids in a city park. Building on the success we've seen since the 2015 closure of Prospect Park's West Drive, I’m excited we are taking another big step towards making Prospect Park car-free for good, by closing it off to cars through the end of the summer," said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Committee on Parks.
“Prospect Park Alliance is excited to partner with NYCDOT and NYC Parks to pilot this car-free program this summer,” said Sue Donoghue, President of the Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit organization that cares for the Park in partnership with the City. “A key part of our mission is engaging the community and enhancing the park experience, and we look forward to seeing how this works for all park users.”