For walkers, joggers and cyclists, Prospect Park will soon be a completely car-free refuge.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that the park will permanently become car-free, beginning Jan. 2, 2018. Currently, Prospect Park’s East Drive is still open to cars during morning rush hour.
Prospect Park previously went car-free this past summer. From July to September, cars were not allowed to cut through via the park’s East Drive as part of a pilot program, forcing those who use the road during morning rush hour to find another route. The park’s West Drive has been permanently closed to cars since 2015.
The car-free summer saw “enormous” support from those who use the park recreationally, according to DOT, especially since walkers, joggers and cyclists outnumber cars more than 3 to 1 in the mornings.
After Labor Day weekend, more than 1,100 people signed petitions sent to New York City calling for the return of full-time car-free hours for the entire park, according to the mayor’s office.
“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,” de Blasio said in a statement. “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.”
The full analysis of the car-free summer pilot program is still being finalized, but according to preliminary results, no other driving route saw more than a minimal delay due to the closing of East Drive. Most routes saw no change in travel times at all, according to the city.
“Based on that data, officials are now confident a fully car-free park can be implemented without adverse impact,” the city said. “These results are consistent with those seen after the closure of the West Drive in June 2015, when the most affected alternative southbound route saw an increased travel time of less than a minute, while other afternoon drivers actually saw travel times improve.”
Before the permanent car-free hours are implemented, the city will again remind drivers and residents of the change. After they begin, DOT will closely monitor traffic around the park for changes and may adjust traffic-signal timing as needed.