Winter 2003, p.8

Car-Free Prospect Park Win

Councilmembers deBlasio, Yassky and Davis celebrate increase in car-free hours at Grand Army Plaza in February.
Councilmembers deBlasio, Yassky and Davis celebrate increase in car-free hours at Grand Army Plaza in February.
Prospect park users started the new year with a major victory--a three month extension of car-free "summer hours." On January 7, the Department of Transportation announced that, beginning January 21, 2003, Prospect Park would be completely car-free on weekends while, on weekdays, cars would be allowed in the Park only during rush hours: 7 to 9 am and 4 to 7 pm. Better yet, once daylight saving time resumes on April 4, cars will only be allowed in the park during the evening from 5 to 7 pm. This is a marked improvement from the previous schedule, which gave motorists 24-7 access to the park drives from the end of October to the beginning of April.

Credit goes, first and foremost, to T.A.'s Brooklyn Committee for its laser beam focus on the issue throughout 2002. Last spring, committee members collected 10,000 signatures of support. T.A. leveraged these into a massive town hall meeting at the end of July. Credit also goes to Councilmembers Bill DeBlasio, David Yassky, Yvette Clarke, James Davis and ex-member Angel Rodriguez for following up on the Town Hall meeting with political pressure. In December, these councilmembers sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall refuting the agency's claim that it needs an additional study of the issue (it spent millions studying the issue from 1993 to 1997) and demanding a three-month "Car-Free Summer" in Prospect Park.

The DOT is calling the new car-free hours a "winter trial phase;" presumably, it will evaluate the "trial" at the end of this year. Allow us: In the trial's first month, T.A. received a multitude of thanks from park users ecstatic about the new car-free hours. Unfortunately, T.A. has heard numerous complaints about motorists getting out of their cars to move the park drives' flimsy barriers and driving into the park during car-free hours. The police need to better enforce car-free hours.

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