NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is now officially car free for the summer.
The park’s East Drive from Park Circle to Grand Army Plaza is off-limits to drivers until Sept. 11. The park’s West Drive was closed to traffic two years ago.
“We have seen in the summertime peak hour, we’re getting about 300 vehicles and over a thousand joggers, pedestrians and cyclists, so we think this is the right decision to make,” said City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
Katherine James and her daughter Lia say they’re on board.
“Really happy,” Katherine James told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “We’ve lived along the park for many, many years and I hate having cars in it. Even as a driver, I’ve already chosen to drive around the park.”
“It makes it easier to go places,” Lia James said.
It’s part of the city’s effort to make the popular park safer for pedestrians, runners, bikers, and equestrians too.
“The park is definitely made for people, not automobiles. So less traffic as data as automobiles go, I think a better chance of making it safer,” Jimmy Devone said.
Jogger Aaron Corbin would like to see it year round.
“This is a test run and I think that after summer’s over, I think people would begin to see that, hey, I think the benefit of just having less traffic is just beneficial for everybody,” he told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
But some point to the busy surrounding streets, which they say will now be even busier without the shortcut.
“More traffic, more congestion,” said runner Dennis Prosper. “That’s a problem.”
“Now, they’ve got to drive local through the streets, they’re gonna create traffic, more pollution,” said driver Ibrahim Bahget. “So have to open in the morning for two, three hours to let people through and close it back. That would be fair for everyone.”
City officials said during the summer, during a peak hour of the morning commute, fewer than 300 vehicles use East Drive compared to 400 on a fall morning.
Meanwhile, they said nearly 1,000 pedestrians, joggers, and bikers use the park during that time.
The Department of Transportation will collect data to see what impact the closure may have on surrounding traffic and safety.
At the end of the trial period in September, DOT officials say they will look through all the data and determine whether they want to make the closure permanent.