Park Nope. No-Park Slope. Two nicknames tell you all you need to know about cars in this hypergentrified neighborhood: there are too many, and they suck up a lot of property value.
Last week, NYC DOT milled Prospect Park West, home to one of Brooklyn’s most popular bike lanes. Today, it began to repave some of the chewed-up pavement, closing the entire street in the process.
For that preliminary activity, DOT funneled vehicles into a single lane, and traffic was pretty bad. Today, it’s insane. Looking down Flatbush Avenue toward downtown Brooklyn from Grand Army Plaza, there’s a row of cars as far as the eye can see.
Supplementing this visual spectacle is an aural delight, as hundreds of drivers, frustrated by their predicament, lay on their horns. Those surprised to find PPW closed need to detour down Union Street, which has suddenly become a multi-lane thoroughfare.
The worst area is the traffic light on the west side of Grand Army Plaza, where cars from two directions merge and then split off (with the assistance of a traffic light). Those trying to stay on Flatbush Avenue need to work their way through the cars stalled trying to get to Union Street. I saw a few middle fingers as I walked by.
This back-up has ripple effects down to where Vanderbilt Avenue joins Flatbush. The B69 and B41 doubtless have serious delays as they try to work their way through this cluster.
On Plaza Street West, drivers have ignored the bike lane and are running two across. The black BMW in this picture had just blown through a red light to turn right on Berkeley. I did not feel too badly for him.
Strangely missing from this picture is the police. Not a single officer is directing traffic or bringing order to the chaos. I did find one toward the end of my walk, blocking the box in what is likely not a sting for Operation Safe Cycle, but who knows.
Of course, some might seize this to argue we need even more pavement devoted to vehicles. The urban-planning concept of induced demand, which says that a reduction in drivable space results in a reduction in cars, depends on drivers’ knowledge of that reduced space over a longer period of time.
This has already been shown on PPW once. As soon as the paving is done, I expect things will return to normal, and this will be forgotten.