Emboldened by a three-week experiment to shut streets to car traffic on the East Side of Manhattan, bicycle activists are preparing to press Mayor Bloomberg to rid Prospect Park of car traffic by arguing that a car-free park would become part of his lasting legacy.
Advocates of a car-free Prospect Park say they have successfully whittled away at the number of hours that cars can use the park each day and are within striking distance of having them banned altogether.
With vehicular traffic allowed only for two hours in the morning and two hours at night Monday through Friday, they argue that ridding the park of cars at all times wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
A organization is asking for a three-month, car-free summer in 2009, which they said would give the city the opportunity to study the effects of the street closures on traffic patterns and park usage.
Critics of a car-free park have argued that it would lead to traffic congestion around the park and clog neighborhood streets during morning and evening commute times.
Next month, teenagers who worked with Transportation Alternatives will present the mayor with some 7,000 postcards signed by park users in support of a car-free summer next year.
The students also tracked the speed of cars using the park this summer and found that more than 90% exceeded the speed limit, often by more than 20 miles an hour.
A spokesman for the city’s Department of Transportation, Scott Gastel, said the city implemented a partial closure to vehicles a year ago, but has no plans at this time to completely close the park to vehicles.
(Source: NY Sun)