Doug Gordon is upset
"I went for my usual after-work bike ride tonight at about 7:15, waiting as I always do until Prospect Park is supposed to be closed to vehicular traffic. I was aware, however, that the New York Philharmonic would be giving a concert in the park tonight, so I was prepared for a slower ride, what with all the people such a concert would attract.
Sure enough, the park was more crowded than usual, as people strode to the concert site carrying beach chairs, blankets and picnic blankets. No surprise.
What was surprising, however, was the long line of cars waiting to get into the park and the even longer line of cars already parked along the west drive of Prospect Park's inner loop. At first I thought this was just handicapped parking, which would have been alright by anyone's standards. (Surely people with physical disabilities should be allowed to drive into the park on a night such as tonight.) But when I saw a number of cars without handicapped plates or decals, I was even more surprised.
I asked a nice Parks Department officer if the parking was open to everyone. It was, she said. While there was a special section for the handicapped (the lot near the Picnic House, I believe), ANYONE with a car was allowed to drive into and park inside Prospect Park tonight.
I witnessed near misses between cyclists and motorists trying to squeeze into a tiny opening at 3rd Street. I saw a young family, kids on a bike with training wheels, come within inches of being sideswiped by a car going about 10 miles per hour. A woman running with a baby jogger had to move out of the way to let a car go by her. I left the park after one lap. I can only imagine what a scene it will be tonight when thousands of people try to walk out of the park in near darkness while hundreds of drivers make a simultaneous exit. Even with guidance from police and park officials, it's not a good mix.
Since the concert site is so accessible by public transportation, why anyone would need to drive into Prospect Park tonight is beyond me. (The F is only two blocks away, the 2/3 about seven blocks away, a bus runs regularly down Prospect Park West, plus there are ample pay lots for cars in and around Park Slope.) That the Parks Department would allow able-bodied people to drive into the park is even more bewildering. We must make accommodations for those for whom walking is difficult or impossible, but does a nice night of classical music in the park also have to be an automotive free-for-all?
I know more concerts are scheduled for Prospect Park this summer and the Philharmonic has more shows in Central Park. I hope this practice can be publicized so it can be discouraged, if not abandoned altogether, in the future.
Thanks for getting the word out.
Thanks for the great blog.
Well Doug its a sad thing about our culture...people just don't feel comfortable without their cars...and if they run over a cyclist now and then...well too bad...the city won't investigate it anyway.
I couldn't agree with you more. Its bad enough the city allows cars in both Prospect Park and Central Park...Why?
thanks for the observation Doug...for now people can call 311 and complain...They don't let cars in for the Bandshell Concert Series...why do it for the Philharmonic...I guess Mozart fans can't walk.