The Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force convened last night at the Picnic House to address safety concerns in the park after a series of recent accidents involving bikes and pedestrians. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to enlarge.
By Geoffrey Croft
The Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force convened its second meeting last night at the Picnic House on a rain soaked evening. The well attended meeting came almost two weeks after a 55-year-old woman while out for a walk in the park was struck by a cyclist on West Drive which left her in a coma.
Prospect Park Administrator Emily Lloyd.
Prospect Park Administrator Emily Lloyd began the meeting by going over the purpose of the task force and highlighting details of the pilot program recently introduced by DOT to address safety concerns.
The program includes placing orange traffic barrels along the drive, narrowing the right lane of vehicle/cycling traffic into one lane. Signs have been posted to alert cyclists that the intersection of West Drive and Wellhouse Drive (near Vanderbilt Playground) is a pedestrian crossing, as well as to remind pedestrians to use the crosswalk
In November 2011, DOT will be placing a high visibility crosswalk at the intersection. NYPD is planning roving enforcement of yield-to-pedestrian laws as well.
According to plan the narrower travel lane is expected to both slow traffic and alert drivers and riders to the upcoming pedestrian crossing.
However many in the audience said narrowing it will only make things more dangerous.
"You reduce speeds by constricting the lane you introduce new dangers. I sincerely hope you do don't make that a permanent change," a cyclist said to loud applause.
Ms. Lloyd said education of the new rules would begin being implemented the first week followed by stepped up enforcement the following week.
The public participation part of the evening began on a somber note when an email written by a mother who's daughter was seriously injured was read. The woman, 37-year old Dana Jacks an actress, was in a collision with a bike while walking in the park on June 11, 2011. Ms. Jacks suffered brain damage and broken bones and spent two weeks in ICU.
"She suffered a dramatic brian injury, fractures in her face and skull, broken shoulder and wrist," the email said.
"Do you have any idea what it feels like as a mother to see your daughter looking battered and to see her in so much pain. While I was there in Brooklyn I visited the park to see what goes on and what goes on is scary. So many people are sharing that park while bicyclists zoom by. It's an accident waiting to happen.
Are there speed signs posted. And if so how are they enforced."
Dana's husband was also in the audience.
Brooklyn resident and avid power-walker Ms. Cohen was hit at approximatly 2:50pm when she stepped onto the West Drive, according to sources.
The accident occurred near on the drive near the Vanderbilt St. Playground opposite the Well(house) drive junction with Lake Drive. The area is the steepest grade of the park drives that goes down for a 1/4 mile. This section of the park is now the subject area of the pilot program.
Cyclists demanding cars be banned from the park were also out in force.
Park goers have long advocated for greater enforcement of speeding bicyclists.
New Safety Measures on Park Drives:
Prospect Park Administration and the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) are taking steps to ensure the safe enjoyment of the Park Drives by everyone. In an effort to slow cyclists at crosswalks and remind them to yield to pedestrians, DOT has introduced a pilot program on Prospect Park's West Drive between Center Drive and Wellhouse Drive (map):
• Orange traffic barrels have been placed along the drive, narrowing the right lane of vehicle/cycling traffic into one lane.
• The narrower travel lane is expected to both slow traffic and alert drivers and riders to the upcoming pedestrian crossing.
• In addition, signs have been posted to alert cyclists that the intersection of West Drive and Wellhouse Drive (near Vanderbilt Playground) is a pedestrian crossing, as well as to remind pedestrians to use the crosswalk.
• In November 2011, DOT will be placing a high visibility crosswalk at the intersection.
• NYPD is planning roving enforcement of yield-to-pedestrian laws as well.
A number of serious bike accidents have recently occurred in the Prospect Park. The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) has introduced a pilot program on Prospect Park's West Drive between Center Drive and Wellhouse Drive.
Bicyclists and pedestrians spar at Prospect Park community meeting after road accidents
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Brooklyn Daily - November 17, 2011 - By Natalie O’Neill
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Park Slope Patch - November 18, 2011 - By Will Yakowicz
A Walk In The Park - November 9, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft