Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Beginning of Better. (Update)

On my run through Prospect Park today I saw the most wonderful thing. No not the glories of Spring, but the line painters.  Yes, they are painting new lines!!!!

These two guy were not pleased that I took their photo, but then I told them that their work was the result of the thoughtful and hard work of a giant committee and they are going to make it safer for all sorts of pedestrians, many types of self propelled wheeled vehicles , and even motor cars.  They said, whatever, they will have us paint it over soon anyway.  Maybe.....  Hopefully not.

The Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force was convened late last year after there were two exceptionally bad pedestrian/cyclists accidents.  The issues of "sharing the road" were in fact being discussed for years if not decades both officially within Prospect Park's Community Committee and in the rest of the world.  The Task Force came up with this plan

The more I look at the plan the more I like it.  First, that 10 foot traffic lane becomes a lane for service vehicles during 158 out of 168 hours in a week that commuter traffic is not allowed in the park. When I have to drive a truck when I help with a race, the plan clearly shows me where to be. It also show the park users where they can expect me.

The one narrower lane will also calm the traffic down a little when cars are allowed in there during rush hour.  It also separates the racing cyclists from the recreational riders and moves them even further from the walkers and runners.

The plan also includes  "Encouraging pedestrians to cross at crosswalks....High Visibility Crosswalks, Signage, and Educational Outreach".  Basically, tying to get people to cross the drive in the crosswalks.  That is where I disagree with this plan.  The crosswalks are not always where people cross.  Some of the major pedestrian entrances to the Park, do not have crosswalks.  I am talking about Grand Army Plaza, Garfield Place and Bartel Prichard Square.  No amount of  Education Outreach is going to get people who enter Prospect Park at Grand Army Plaza is going to get them to walk out of their way to find a crosswalk.  Anyway, this is New York, nobody who is walking stops a  red lights, why should they do it when there isn't supposed to be any cars.

The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the NYC Department of
Transportation (DOT) have reviewed the comments from the Prospect Park Road Sharing Taskforce’s public meeting on February 28, 2012 and made the following two additions to the plan to further increase pedestrian safety: 1. The crosswalk at Wellhouse Drive and West Drive (near the Vanderbilt Playground) will be widened from about 12 feet to 25 feet. 2. There will be two new crosswalks added to the Park Drive at Grand Army Plaza.

Also the Task Force decided to ask the police to "Foster stop on “red“ for everyone" with "Ongoing Enforcement".  I believe this is terribly dangerous.  It is dangerous because cyclists  do not stop a lights in NYC.  I do not think it is the role of the Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force to attempt to change this (unsafe but real) cycling culture.  At best some cyclists  will stop, bot most will not.
About 10 years ago I was running against the flow of traffic.  As I was coming around the lake, auto traffic was stopped at the red light that is at the bottom of the hill.  Three racing cyclist were on a training ride and were zooming down the hill.  They approached the intersection at full speed and only I knew that there was the classic little old lady (with a walker!) crossing with the light.  They could not see here because of the stopped traffic.  They did not hit her, they hit each other, avoiding her.  
My point is that the traffic that was stopped at the light obstructed their view of the little old lady.  If some bikes stop at a light, the rest will weave around them, causing more accidents.
I have been to other parks in NYC and they treat their pedestrian /  bike lane interactions differently.

In Central Park there are signs in the crosswalks reminding cyclists that they must yield to pedestrians.

From the other side the sign informs cyclists they are going the wrong way.

Maybe we can add a crosswalk at Grand Army Plaza.  That is where people cross the roadway.

Along the Hudson River Bike Path there are signs warning cyclists that there is a crossing ahead.  The only traffic lights from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge are where cars have to cross the bike path.

In places were there is a lot of pedestrian crossings barricades are placed to slow cyclists.

No traffic light.  No "Ongoing Enforcement".

What I am trying to say is that no amount of enforcement is going to stop people form walking or riding through the red traffic signals.  This is a park.  This is New York City.  People can not assume that just because they have a green light they can just go.  We need to install signs that remind people that they should be aware that they about to enter a busy area..

The traffic lights in Prospect Park were installed for automobile traffic.   When there are no cars in the park they should be blinking red for the pedestrians and blinking yellow on the roadway.  This will alert people crossing the roadway to STOP AND LOOK.  It will also alert cyclists to YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.


  1. Another important question re painting, will PPTC repaint the mile markers every 1/4 mile along the repaved sections? I feel lost without them!

  2. PPTC never painted anything on the roadways of Prospect Park. But they will magically reappear.

  3. None of this is going to do any good without education and enforcement.
    This morning at about 6:20 I saw a private vehicle come along the West Drive and take a left into the Picnic House lot. I can't think of any reason that vehicle was there except to run their dog off-leash.

  4. Janet,

    Cars are a different thing. For the most part drivers will follow the rules when they know there will be enforcement.

  5. This is awesome for runners because, now, they can legitimately run on the flatter part of the road. This will result in less ankle and IT band problems for people who run a lot in the park. The running lane was so canted that I tried to run in it as little as possible.
    I agree with you about the bikes. When I would bike up the West Side Highway path, I would always be torn: should I stop for crosswalks, like the sign says, or should I blow through them like everyone else? The law says stop. But, it was actually MORE DANGEROUS for the pedestrians if I were to have stopped because then they would have thought it safe to cross at the crosswalk, thereby being sitting targets for the rest of the cyclists blazing through.

  6. What do you think of the idea of a push-button crossing? All lights will be turned off during non-car hours, and pedestrians will push a button to change the light to red so they can cross.

    Cyclists would be required to slow to walking speed or stop completely once the pedestrian got to the cycling lane, but cyclists wouldn't have to stop if the ped was in the jogger or car lanes.

    This would provide safety when needed and avoid the confusion that reigns using the current system. What say ye?

  7. This is a month old, but I just saw it and couldn't agree more with your points on the traffic lights and cyclists in Prospect Park. At the very least, what about setting the lights to go to blinking red when there are no cars in the park? It's absurd to expect a cyclist to stop at an empty crosswalk and wait there until the light changes. And there are so few places in the city where cyclists can ride uninterrupted for long stretches.

    Anyone know if there's a movement behind this? A politician that supports this cause?

  8. @ LaLa

    If you drill down in the Task Forces's recommendation that is what they want. Push button crossing when the drive is closed to cars. But nobody knows if they traffic lights wiring can handle that.

    I don't think that will work and it might be even worse. If bikers get accustomed to green, they wont even look for reds. They are not going to stop anyway. I would not want a person to think it is save to cross just because they pressed a button and got the light to change to green to them


You do not have to be nice!


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

This is not me

This is not me
Not me.

Blog Archive