East Drive from Park Circle to Grand Army Plaza, previously open to vehicles during weekday morning rush hours, is car-free 24-7 for two months from today through the weekend after Labor Day
Today marks the first day of Prospect Park’s car-free summer, announced by Mayor de Blasio last week. Previously open to northbound traffic during the morning rush-hour, Prospect Park entire loop drive is car-free 24/7 from today until Monday, September 11th. The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), in coordination with NYC Parks, has been publicizing Prospect Park East Drive’s new hours to affected drivers.
“It’s a great day for Prospect Park. For kids and families using the park as their summer oasis, it just got quieter, healthier and safer” said Mayor de Blasio.
“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.
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.
We can do the same thing here in Van Cortlandt Park. Just close down the Deegan Highway, but then again this is the Bronx.