Prospect Park West traffic speeds down 25 percent

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Prospect Park West’s new bike lane has put the brake on speedsters, according to a recent survey which found that traffic has slowed by 25 percent since the strip was redesigned by the city in June.

The survey, conducted by the advocacy group Park Slope Neighbors over a two day period in late July, cheap jerseys recorded the speeds of 351 randomly selected cars, and compared the results to a similar study done in March, before the Department of Transportation (DOT) reconfigured the avenue.

The city cut the three lane roadway to two lanes and built a parking protected bike path along its eastern side in response to demands from several community groups.

The speed survey performed with an “accurately calibrated hand held radar gun,” on the corner of Prospect Park West and Garfield Place, according to Park Slope Neighbors found the average speed on the avenue, where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour, dropped from 36.6 miles per hour in March to 27.6 in July, a 25 percent drop.

The percentage of cars traveling 40 miles per hour or more also dropped approximately 28 percent, while the number of drivers observing the speed limit rose by a whopping 409 percent.

“The speed gun data shows without a doubt that the redesign of Prospect Park West has had a tremendous traffic calming effect,” said Eric McClure, Park Slope Neighbors’ campaign coordinator.

“Prospect Park West has been transformed from a noisy speedway on which nearly every vehicle was speeding to a calmer, quieter neighborhood street,” he added.

Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6, said slower traffic would make the street, long known as a dangerous speedway for drivers headed into South Brooklyn, much safer for bikers and pedestrians.

The bike lane “had an immediate impact as far as reducing speeds go,” he said. “That was the primary goal.”

In addition to losing one lane, drivers turning onto Prospect Park West from the roundabout at Grand Army Plaza must also contend with the obstacle of parallel parking from both sides, now that a new row of parking spaces separates the road from the protected bike path.

Vlad Averbukh, who lives in the area, said the narrower roadway and abundance of parallel parkers has made Prospect Park West a nightmare.

“The bike lane sucks,” said Averbukh, who admits he drives slower on the street when he ventures there at all. “I haven’t driven here as much because I try to avoid the street, now that they put the bike lane in.”

Hannah Rivkin, of Flatbush, said drivers clog the right lane in order to steer clear of the parking strip that buffers the left lane from the bike path.

“You’re always trying to get out of that lane,” she said. “And parking is worse, I don’t know why. But I guess we have to think green.”

Others praised the bike path, and the traffic slow down.

“I do driver slower, but has it been a hassle since the bike lanes went in? No,” said Ian Emmanuel, a Crown Heights resident. “Traffic is flowing smoothly. The bike lane is great.”

The traffic is slower because the traffic is backed up due to congestion caused by the very narrow lanes. Anytime someone tries parking it backs up traffic. The air quality is clearly worse due to the added traffic and idling vehicles. Opening a car door is a dangerous act. Furthermore, crossing the street is even harder because you are unable to see cars coming. Finally, the lanes have made a grand regal avenue into a narrow street and have destroyed the artistry of Prospect Park West. Given the availablity of the park for bike riders this was a poorly executed and limited vision idea.

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