A Brief Recounting of the Campaign for a Car-Free Prospect Park
October 2008: With the car-free Prospect Park campaign charged up, community boards and council members begin to consider reducing the number of car-travel lanes from two to one and expanding the bicycle and pedestrian lane to accommodate the surge in users.
May 2008: The Prospect Park Youth Advocate Program begins. Four Youth Advocates are hired and work tirelessly towards a car-free Prospect Park, collecting more than 10,000 signed postcards to Mayor Bloomberg in a single summer.
August 2007: The DOT implements a fractional closure of the Prospect Park loop that keeps large sections of the drive car-free for longer. Neighbors rejoice and T.A. marks another notch in its belt.
November 2006: At the behest of T.A., Holiday Hours, which opened up the park to cars during rush hour between Thanksgiving and New Year's, are phased out.
May 2006: T.A. publishes the report, Are Cares Driving People Out? A study of pedestrian use patterns in Prospect Park, which found that more than 4 out of 5 park users surveyed would use the park more often if cars were permanently banned from the Park Drive.
April 2006: A landmark piece of car-free park legislation is introduced in the City Council, prompting Mayor Bloomberg to announce new significant reductions in the hours that cars can use Prospect Park.
April 2005: All four of the City Council members whose districts border the park sign on to a T.A. letter calling for a three-month car--free trial.
January 2005: A new generation of progressive City Council Members take their seats and the legislative push for a car free park slowly starts to heat up.
December 2003: T.A. volunteers conduct a radar study and finds that 92% of motorists speed in Prospect Park, with 25% of motorists speeding 10 mph or more over the speed limit. The average speed of motor vehicles in the park is 38 mph.
January 2003: In response to T.A. and community pressure, the DOT implements year-long midday car-free hours in the park. All year round, Prospect Park became car-free except during weekday rush hours.
2002: Volunteers collect 10,000 signatures in support of a car-free Prospect Park. At a Town Hall meeting every Council Member around the Park expresses support for a 3–month trial closure.
2000: A Town Hall meeting at Union Temple for a car-free Prospect Park brings together 5 council members and 400 car-free park supporters.
1999: Local Council Member Stephen DiBrienza comes to demonstrations and calls for a 3-month trial closure of the Park Drive to automobile traffic. Councilmember Kenneth Fisher and others sign-on to support the same, and endorse a car-free park.
October 1998: T.A. publishes the report, Dangerous by Design: A Case Against Cars in Prospect Park, which found that 95% of motorists exceeded the speed limit, 50% of motorists swerved into the recreational lane, and every minute a vehicle ran a red light.
April 1998: More postcards are sent to Borough President Golden, which produces a Borough President Town Hall Meeting at Borough Hall. About 400 people show-up for the standing room-only meeting; it is standing room only and people spill out the door onto the sidewalk. 93 people testify in favor of car-free park, 4 against. Testimonies of note: handicapped people's organization testifies in favor of a car-free park, the local NYPD precinct says there is no problem with a car-free park.
July 1997: Bicyclist and community member Rachael Fruchter is killed by a car in Prospect Park.
1993: Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden and the Department of Transportation assemble an advisory group which included Transportation Alternatives, the Community Boards which surround Prospect Park and others. All of the organizations in the advisory group contribute detailed suggestions on how to construct the study. Funded with federal money, the DOT begins an “18-month” study, with various documents and findings leaked over the next five years. The study is not completed until the end of 1997. See the DOT Study HERE [http://www.transalt.org/campaigns/prospark/studies]
1992: T.A. sends 20,000 signed postcards from park users to Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden asking for a study of a Car-Free Prospect Park. Golden asks the Department of Transportation to conduct a study.
1991: Transportation Alternatives hosts hundreds of protesters on a series of marches on the loop drive through Prospect Park, momentarily freeing the Loop Drives from traffic.
1966: Under Mayor Lindsay, car-free weekend hours are implemented in Central and Prospect Parks, beginning a gradual reduction that has continued to this day.
1930s: Under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, the park's loop drive is widened and straightened, turning it into a high-speed shortcut for motorists.
1868: The construction of Prospect Park is completed. What would become know as “Brooklyn's Jewel” had two million people arrive to enjoy its rolling green meadows and meandering carriage drives with high elevation scenic lookouts. Grand Army Plaza, the entrance to the Park and integral to Olmstead and Vaux's original park plan, was open as mainly a pedestrian space and a trolley rotary.
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