Prospect Park is about to get safer for cyclists and joggers

Prospect Park sees about 10 million visits every year—not surprising given that it’s one of NYC’s best parks. The verdant lawns, wooded sanctuaries and gorgeous public spaces are just some of its main attractions that lure in Brooklynites, city residents and tourists. But perhaps most used is its 3.3-mile paved loop, which provides a space for cyclists and joggers to safely traverse the park.

Parkgoers will be glad to know that starting this spring, 2 miles of Park Drive (along East Drive) will be repaved by the DOT to increase space for cyclists and pedestrians in order to minimize conflicts. 

The milling and repaving work will begin the night of Sunday, March 12, at Park Circle and should take about five weeks, weather permitting, according to the Parks Department and the Prospect Park Alliance.

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Prospect Park east drive repaving map
Map: courtesy of the NYC Department of Transportation

“Prospect Park hosts visitors of all kinds every day, and we’re excited to work with our partners at the Prospect Park Alliance and NYC DOT on reimagining the Prospect Park Drive. This park is truly Brooklyn’s backyard, and we are dedicated to creating safe and enjoyable shared spaces,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue.

The city hopes to minimize disruption for park users, so the work will be done entirely during weeknight overnight hours, from 8pm to 4am. Each section will take about three nights to mill and two nights to repave. This way, parkgoers will have access to the fully paved roads on weekends. 

That being said, portions of Park Drive will be rough on some weekdays, so cyclists are advised to take other routes like along protected bicycle lanes just outside the park on Parkside Avenue, Flatbush Avenue and Prospect Park West.

The project is a result of a study from traffic consultant Sam Schwartz in partnership with NYC Parks and NYC DOT, which analyzed crash data, pedestrian counts, roadway grade, existing crossings and signals, and park-drive-related park user correspondence to determine critical issues. 

Out of this study, potential solutions were identified and refined through meetings and a survey with the Park Drive Safety Task Force and members of NYC DOT and NYC Parks. Some of them included roadway striping, crosswalk visibility and safety improvements, and renovations to the park drive to widen usable road space; signs, signals, usage rules and community outreach/education; and policy.

You can see the study for yourself and provide your own feedback here.

Prospect Park east drive repaving map
Map: courtesy of the NYC Department of Transportation

One of the study’s safety recommendations will be done as part of an 18-month pilot: the roadway will be re-marked to add a second pedestrian lane on the outside of the drive (see above). Doing this will create more space for pedestrians and joggers and make it safer by preventing the need for crossing, which can be dangerous with oncoming cyclists, according to the plan. This new design will be marked on signs throughout the park and promoted by city officials.

“Prospect Park became such a popular haven in recent years, and so it was time we took a fresh look at making the wonderful loop drive even safer and more hospitable to pedestrians, joggers and cyclists,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We thank our partners at the NYC Council for funding this study, as well as NYC Parks and the Prospect Park Alliance for working with us on this exciting new redesign pilot, which, combined with a fresh coat of asphalt, will make running, cycling or walking in the park even more inviting.”

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