Why a protected bike path?
In 2007, Community Board 6 raised the issue of speeding traffic along Prospect Park West to DOT. The Community Board also requested improved bicycle access to Prospect Park. In response DOT designed a protected on-street bike path for Prospect Park West to address both concerns simultaneously.
DOT has been installing on-street bike paths, protected from vehicular traffic by parked cars in locations where the width of the roadway, combined with high volumes of bicycle traffic and either high volumes of motor vehicle traffic or high speeds make cycling in traffic unsafe or undesirable.
Before the bike path was installed, radar-gun studies showed that more than three out of every four motorists exceeded the 30 mph speed limit. The project has removed one of three travel lanes and added a two-way protected bicycle path along the park.
Taming traffic and promoting cycling
The Prospect Park West project has calmed traffic. The project was installed in June 2010. Data collected in July 2010 indicate that speeding has been dramatically reduced, now fewer than one of every seven vehicles exceed the speed limit on Prospect Park West.
The bicycle path helps provide safer access to Prospect Park for pedestrians by calming traffic and also for cyclists. It also serves as an important link between neighborhoods south of Prospect Park including Windsor Terrace and Sunset Park and Park Slope, downtown Brooklyn and beyond. The path has rapidly become one of the most popular cycling facilities in Brooklyn with more than 1,000 cyclists using the path on a typical weekday, more than triple the number that cycled here before the project was completed. DOT continues to monitor the performance of the project.
Preliminary monitoring results and project presentations are available below.
On August 16, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bert Bunyan dismissed the heart of the lawsuit challenging the Prospect Park West bike path, allowing the project will remain unimpeded. In the case, the City argued that project was implemented in response to community requests and concerns to reduce speeding and enhance safety for everyone who uses Prospect Park West. As detailed below, the proposal was revised multiple times with input from the community and was implemented after substantial analysis. Read the press release from the Law Department (pdf) Download the decision (pdf)
Facts about the Prospect Park West Traffic Calming Project
- Crashes resulting in injuries went down by 63%
- Speeding on the corridor is down from 74% of cars on Prospect Park West speeding to just 20%.
- Dangerous sidewalk bike riding is down from 46% of bike riders on the sidewalk before the project to just 3% after, many of whom are children and legally allowed to ride on the sidewalk
- There has been no change in traffic volumes or corridor travel times. Prospect Park West remains the fastest route through Park Slope.
- Bike riding on Prospect Park West increased dramatically
- The community that requested the project overwhelmingly supports it. A poll found that more than 70% of residents of the neighborhood adjacent to the path wanted to retain or improve the path. A survey by local Council Member Brad Lander also found broad support for the project.
- This reflects citywide polls, which show that New Yorkers citywide support bike lanes by a 24-point margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll.
- The project was requested by Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 in 2007 to curb speeding, to provide a safe, two-way bike path along the park and to reduce sidewalk bike riding.
- The Prospect Park West traffic calming project is not a pilot. Pilot projects are clearly designated in public presentations and communications.
- The path was installed in June 2010 following a Community Board vote and at an open house, and the board unanimously voted this year to support enhancements to the project, which DOT is now implementing. Community Board resolutions did not indicate that the project was considered a “trial” or a “pilot.”
Prospect Park West Community Outreach Timeline
This timeline of DOT's Prospect Park West community outreach was compiled by Council Member Brad Lander and former Community Board 6 Chair Richard Bashner, and distributed with an amicus brief in support of Prospect Park West bike path, that said:
- March, 2007: At a Park Slope community meeting attended by hundreds, concerns about speeding and safety on Prospect Park West are raised, noting that cars exceed 60 MPH, and that many cars substantially exceed the speed limit.
- June, 2007: Community Board 6 sends a letter to DOT, requesting study of a protected, two-way bike path on Prospect Park West as a way to reduce speeding and improve safety.
- April, 2009: DOT presents initial plan for parking-separated path to CB6 Transportation Committee, which unanimously voted to approve the plan.
- May, 2009: The full CB6 board votes to approve the plan, 18–9, with suggested modifications.
- April, 2010: CB6, Lander and DOT sponsor an open house, attended by hundreds, showing design plan for additional public comment.
- April, 2010: DOT presents the modified design (addressing many issues raised by CB6 and community residents) to CB6.
- June, 2010: Prospect Park West parking-protected, two-way bike path is installed.
- Summer, 2010: Lander meets with bike path opponents and supporters.
- July, 2010: Lander requests that DOT commit to provide data to community, after the path has been in operation for several months, on how the path is working.
- August, 2010: DOT commits to provide data, and report back to the community in early 2011.
- October, 2010: Lander, Council Member Steve Levin, and CB6 conduct a detailed survey on the path, completed by over 3,000 Brooklynites, which reveals significant support for the path, and suggests some additional modifications.
- October, 2010: DOT releases first round of data, showing dramatic reductions in speeding and sidewalk cycling, and significant increases in cycling.
- January, 2011: DOT presents data to CB6 (at a meeting attended by hundreds) on the first six months of the path's operation, showing speeding, accidents, and injuries are down, travel time remains constant, sidewalk riding is down, cycling is up. DOT also proposes additional design modifications in response to community requests, including raised pedestrian islands and bike rumble-strips to improve bike/pedestrian interactions.
- March, 2011: CB6 holds public hearing (attended by hundreds), at which the significant majority of community residents present favor the bike path.
- April, 2011: CB6 votes unanimously to approve the raised pedestrian islands, bike rumble strips, and other design modifications proposed by DOT (requesting that the design of the islands be contextual with Prospect Park West).
- Pedestrian Island Proposal (presented to Community Board 6 on June, 16, 2011) (pdf)
- Before and After Results (January 20, 2011) (pdf)
- Before and After Results with underlying data (pdf)
- Presentation to CB 6 Transportation Committee on April 29, 2010 (pdf)
- Presentation to CB 6 Transportation Committee on April 16, 2009 (pdf)
- Open House on April 12, 2010 - slides (pdf), presentation boards (pdf)