DOT’s Four-Legged Friends: City Installs Horse Lanes on Prospect Park

We bridle at this bridle path.

The hubbub from the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit seems to have died down, but passing through Park Circle the other day, The Observer discovered a plan even more nefarious: the city’s Department of Transportation is putting animals—no, we don’t mean bicyclists—before humans!

Back in 2009, DOT launched one of its countless street re-engineering schemes at Park Circle, the roundabout at the southwestern tip of Prospect Park. The idea was to “address the community’s concerns regarding the lack of safe connectivity around the circle and to the park.” Or, as Streetsblog put it at the time, “DOT presented plans for short-term changes that should make Brooklyn’s Park Circle more welcoming to those on foot, on bikes and on horseback.”

In there is no mention of the cars that have dominated the stretch almost since it opened in 1889, horns and car exhaust blowing past the work of some of the city’s greatest designers: Stanford White and Olmstead and Vaux. Just because DOT did outreach throughout the year to find out exactly what neighboring community boards wanted to see at the five-way intersection, does that really mean that the city or the locals should have any say over those who must drive through Park Circle every day, suffering the frustrations of driving in this crowded city?

Stop making sense. (NYC DOT)

Just because DOT’s numbers show that travel times in Park Circle have on the average gone down, northbound drivers have seen an uptick in their travel times, and that is far too much inconvenience to be acceptable. And do not try and justify these travel times by pointing out that there was also a slight decline in the number of accidents. Are these radical changes hardly worth it? People will be confused—something this plan was meant to fix—so much so they might lose their way or even forget their names. Must drivers really share the road with anyone else? Isn’t that why we created roads in the first place? For cars? It’s as though horses and bikes were there first. Soon, they’ll want to bring back the buggy.

Just listen to how happy the locals are! The Observer reached out to Mandy Harris with community group Stable Brooklyn. She sounds downright giddy. New York is supposed to be tough and gritty, not soft and sane:

Yes, they seem to be pretty well utilized. Horses use the horse lanes, bikes use the bike lanes. I think it has made it a lot saner for everyone. The timing of the lights still seems to be a little problematic for the cars as they try to exit the circle, but the old days of cars backed up all the way along PPSW are long gone and, I think, mostly forgotten.

I see all kinds of people on bikes using the lanes–commuters, racers, and families with kids. It gets you to the park without having to enter the chaos of traffic on the circle. And the old problem of people scampering across without a pedestrian light to guide them has also been completely eliminated.

The Observer is officially announcing the creation of a new civic group, Neighbors for Better Horse Lanes. It’s not too late to file a lawsuit, is it?

mchaban [at] | @MC_NYC DOT’s Four-Legged Friends: City Installs Horse Lanes on Prospect Park