Quote of the Day
“I can’t understand living in a city that can ban cars from Times Square, but not Prospect Park,” said runner and biker Jerry Mascuch, of Ditmas Park, to applause.
This may be the quote of the year, in my book. Of the one hundred or so people who packed the picnic house two nights ago to sound off on safety in Prospect Park, all but one suggested banning cars as the necessary first step towards making it safer. Unless someone invents magic paint that appears and reappears on the roadway as the usage restrictions change, having one set of rules for the four hours each day that cars are in the park and another set of rules for the vast majority of time that they are not is a recipe for confusion and conflict.
Of course, something must be done to reign in cyclists who train in giant pelotons and scream at slower riders, pedestrians, joggers, and children to get out of the way. Whether that involves limiting training hours or banning large groups of cyclists will be something for the Task Force to debate. But I still believe the focus must be on getting cars out once and for all. If we don’t, we’ll all just meet in a year or two for another public forum.
Forrest Cocogni, the husband of a woman who was gravely injured by a cyclist earlier this summer, said, “You don’t allow cars to race in the park; you shouldn’t allow bikes to race, either.” But the thing is that we do allow cars to race in the park, every day for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. They may not have NASCAR sponsorship stickers plastered on their hoods and doors, but they use the park as their own personal short-cut, much to the detriment and danger of everyone else. As Lauri Schindler of the Park Slope Civic Council said, “It’s a park, not a parkway.” (This might be the second best quote of the year.)
I’m grateful that the Road Sharing Task Force offered members of the public the opportunity to provide comments, suggestions, and a chance to vent. But if it does not eventually recommend at least a temporary or trial closure of the park loop from, say, Memorial Day to Labor Day this summer, it will have sent a clear signal that Wednesday’s forum was all for show.