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Count Cars Breaking the Law in Prospect Park!

Almost every time Doug Gordon visits Prospect Park he sees vehicles entering illegally after it is closed to cars at 7 pm. It made him mad, so he got out his video camera.

StreetFilms obtained the footage he took on June 20th near the 3rd Street/P'Park West entrance and truncated it into this enlightening bit. Count along as dozens of drivers break the law!

We think Doug is awesome and we whole-heartedly encourage more concerned citizens to act constructively to highlight what is going on in their community.


Doug Gordon: [00:00] The park should be closed to traffic any minute now, and I’m out here trying to see how long it’s going to take before someone from the Parks Department or the Police Department, basically whoever’s in charge of closing these gates around the park gets over here to 3rd Street. As you can see a lot of bikes are making their way around the park. Cars are still in the park. So we’re just going to hang out.


[pause]

Doug Gordon: [00:37] And that’s ten.


[pause]

Doug Gordon: [00:45] We’re about five or six minutes past seven o’clock, and that might not seem like a giant amount of time, but considering the sun is already going down and the limited amount of time that people have to use the park after work, those five minutes can mean a big deal to a runner, a biker, anyone just going for a stroll, kids on their bikes. Now we can make an exception obviously for the police or any service vehicles, but this guy really doesn’t have much of an excuse.


[pause]

Doug Gordon: [01:14] The problem seems to be that if it’s open people will use it. Either they just don’t know the park hours or they don’t care.


[pause]

Doug Gordon: [01:25] That guy had the walk signal, it didn’t matter. Well I’ve lost count but we definitely have to be over 30 by this point.


[pause]

Doug Gordon: [01:39] Yeah, I’m actually shooting something to track all of the cars.


Speaker: [01:43] Look at this, you got parents with kids that are here trying to ride safely.


Doug Gordon: [01:49] I was waiting to see how long it would take for someone to come around and do this. Yeah, someone official from the park but I guess it takes people like us to just shut it down.


[pause]

Doug Gordon: [02:07] This person’s going to make a decision, cos we haven’t closed it all the way. But they’re going to go through anyway.


[pause]

Doug Gordon: [02:22] So this is the official park van and it’s quarter after. And you can’t really blame these people because the park probably only provides one van to go around and close all of the exits.

http://transcriptdivas.ca/transcription-canada/

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • Commandante Flailey

    ". . . and Che Flaiey, I’m glad to see we have a spokesperson on this blog who speaks for the huddled non-white and uneducated masses"

    No problem, son!

    Needless to say I'm a white upper middle class type with a large apartment overlooking the promenade and a house in Amagansett. Not to mention extremely attractive sexual partners.

    But seeing as how I came up from the streets this kind of advocacy and understanding comes naturally to me. Perhaps you could learn it with practice.

    Hasta la victoria siempre!

  • harry

    hmmm all the educated folks think one way, all the non-educated fols think the other way...yet the uneducated outnumber the educated..classic dilemna of democracy.

    i'll take my chances with the educated folk...

  • Denton

    Hey Flailey:

    You said:
    It benefits everyone except people who use the roads and/or are in cars or trade trucks or taxis or buses.

    Not everyone can live close to the subway, and some people have jobs that involve tools and a work truck, rather than a computer and a desk. You may recognize these people, they are the people that come when you call your landlord to scream about the heat in your tasteful floor-through.

    I realize these facts may come a revelation to you but these people also need to get to their homes and/or jobs elsewhere in Brooklyn.

    I say 'I hear ya' but commercial traffic like work trucks are already banned from PP so that's not the issue.

    Denton

  • The Original Flailey

    "hmmm all the educated folks think one way, all the non-educated fols think the other way…yet the uneducated outnumber the educated..classic dilemna of democracy.

    i’ll take my chances with the educated folk…"

    Actually no, it's just the subset of educated folks who are dweebish enough to stand on the corner making lame videos and/or argue online about them.

    All this noise is made as usual by a tiny minority that has way too much time on their hands and a warped view of the way things should be in an extremely dense and commercial city.

    Have you people really not noticed that this is already the single most anti-car-friendly city in the entire country? That's great. Congestion pricing makes a lot of sense. Fabulous. Just spare me your self-righteous crap when this city has bigger problems.

    And what the hell is the dilemma of democracy? Is that slang for being angry that you're massively outvoted by people who don't like your point of view?

    Step away from the Ayn Rand, son, and rejoin us in America. The Flailey's of the world, guidos in bay ridge with hot rods, and even the brown people (the horror!) get to have a say too. There are places in the world without democracy but I don't think you'd like it there.

  • Doug

    I'm not going to respond to the more opinion-based comments on here, only because there are too many.

    But I would like to respond to questions of why I didn't move the barrier myself, or at least why I didn't move it earlier.

    1. I have moved the gate myself in the past, but on some occasions have been told by the police to wait for a Parks Department van to do it. (Others have commented here that they've had similar experiences, although I've never experienced anything I'd call harassment.) This time, I decided to see what would happen if no one did anything.

    2. When the man approached me and suggested moving the barrier, I did not hesitate to help. That did not stop people from driving through the open space anyway. (See #5, below, on this subject.)

    3. There are things for which people depend on the police or parks officials. Should we have to count on a concerned citizen showing up at each entrance at 7:01 each night to shut the gates? As nice a sentiment as it is - concerned citizens unite! - it's not a very reliable system.

    4. It's not always safe for a random person to walk across two lanes of traffic to erect a heavy gate, especially when you are blocking off a roadway to which, as many comments here have proven, many drivers feel a great sense of entitlement. (You can see a runner with the walk signal almost get hit in the video.) Regular citizens run the risk of raising the ire of motorists. A cyclist wearing spandex, a kid in a baseball uniform, or a runner in short jogging shorts doesn't convey the same level of authority as a police officer or a Parks Department employee in an van.

    5. Relying on ordinary people to set up the gates increases the risk that they will be set up improperly, resulting in emergency vehicles being delayed should they need to enter the park. It's a bit of a paradox: the gates need to be set up so they send a clear off-limits message to regular motorists, but also so that they allow safe and quick access for police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and service vehicles. (The video clearly shows that such vehicles must be allowed unlimited access to the drive, regardless of car-free hours.)

    Regarding the "Hey, it's only fifteen minutes," argument, I turned off my camera after the Parks Dept. van arrived. What is not seen are the four or five cars that still entered at 3rd Street, after the official set-up. Even at three in the afternoon one can see cars going around the barriers to cut through the park. Anyone who's focusing on the fifteen minutes is missing the larger point.

    One last thing: this video is by no means a criticism of the good people who work in the park, setting up and taking down barriers and providing other valuable services, and no one would begrudge them a few minutes here and there. The longer video makes a point of saying that the problem is certainly not the fault of lower-level Parks Department employees. They are not the ones who provide only one van to close multiple entrances and they are not the ones who set park policy. Change will come from the top, when the Parks Department decides to install better gates and provide more resources to ensure strict adherence to opening and closing times.

  • Bligo

    Doug, thanks for writing in. Are the gates opened 15 minutes late also during the times of day when they should be open to cars? If so, the tardiness is a net wash.

    You have a much more viable point to make with regard to vehicles dodging the closed gates after hours. Those drivers ought to be fined.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence

    Bligo:

    Many people I know who jog or ride in the AM say that cars regularly queue up at the gates to enter right at 7 AM and some even jump in early. However, my own experience in the early morning park are so few I can't validate that.

  • da

    Setting aside the question of cars in the park for a moment -- do we really need the 3rd St. entrance? Most of the cars entering there were turning left off PPW. Seems like they could just as easily entered at the main Grand Army Plaza entrance. Why not close 3rd St., like Bartel-Pritchard?

  • Matt Parker

    Parks are for recreation. Period. Commuters - get out of the park. Come back when you want to have some fun, not endanger the lives of all those folks trying to enjoy the park.

  • realistism

    Who cares when the parks were built? They have streets in them that were designed for traffic other than feet. Get over yourself, your bike and your over-inflated sense of entitlement.

    Just because you grace the world with your virtuous, biking presence doesn't mean everyone else has to adapt to your sensibilities.

  • tralfaz

    Realitistism,

    What is it with the bike comments? Plenty of us are using the park for running and playing with our kids.

    I don't even own a bike. I gave it away a few weeks ago.

    I just want a safe space to bring my kids to play. Central Park is a crazy place weeknights.

  • Bligo

    Why would cars queue up for the morning opening? Why wouldn't they just drive around this relatively small park? It seems sort of silly.

  • steve

    Bligo, they queue up because there are fewer traffic lights int he park and you are less likely to get caught speeding. Studies have shown that 99% of the traffic on the CP loop exceeds the speed limit, I don't know if similar studies have been done on the PP Loop but it is a similar situation, I would expect similar conduct.

  • tralfaz

    Small park? Small? Bligo have you even been to Prospect Park?

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence

    #63: Someone monikered "da chef" posted these facts on Curbed. I believe they are correct from what I recall from the study:

    "From 7 to 8 AM on an average morning in Prospect Park:
    9 out of 10 cars were speeding
    A car ran a red light every two minutes
    167 cars drove in the bicycle / pedestrian lane "

  • Brooklyn Trolley Dodger

    Hi Clarence (#63),
    I just went outside for 15 minutes on Flatbush Avenue and observed the following:

    Bikes on flatbush: 11
    Bikes Running Red Lights: 11 out of 11
    Bikes illegally on pedestrian sidewalk: 6

    Why does this blog not seem to mention these type of stats? Or don't they fit into Trans Alt's world view?

    I urge you to check out curbed.com. Someone (#33) comments on the atrocious behavior of the cyclists at the post-Gay Parade festivities in GV. Fifth Avenue was closed to cars all day and no one complained.

    Yet, when Hudson River bike path was blocked for a couple of hours, cyclists go rude and ballistic.
    That is just one example of why people have little sympathy for the cyclists' agenda.

    Cyclists will NEVER get respect until they start showing some respect first.

  • Bligo

    Small in the sense that it doesn't take much longer to drive around. The park drive isn't a transverse, it's a loop on the outside edge, so it ought not save very much time except for red lights or unless you're speeding. It's not like driving around Central Park from West 86th to East 86th, which would take quite a while.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence

    BTG: Are you referring to Steve (who is actually #63) or me...in any event I will respond...

    You can go just about anywhere and observe bad and good behavior from both cyclists and/or drivers (today while walking in Red Hook and Carroll Gardens in the span of an hour I saw TWO drivers go the wrong way down streets and in one case an NYPD vehicle just flashed their lights and told the person to turn around! Talk about dangerous.)

    I do not condone riding on the sidewalk or cyclists behaving badly. In fact, it probably gets me more angry than you because I am out there on the front lines trying to fight for better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists and each piece of bad behavior I see makes my job harder.

    However, I don't know why you and many others continually talk about just cycling, when this vlog has plenty of videos about ped safety, transportation, children, open space issues, and making NYC a more livable city, which is the ultimate goal here - to enlighten our city. Cyclists are just one part of the community asking for drivers not to go in the park. I run in the park and drivers scare me when I am in there.

    We have been researching a few PSAs to produce to ask cyclists to follow the law. In the future look for them. But we have almost no budget to work with, we all work very hard to do what we do.

    I suggest Mr./Mrs./Ms. BTG if you want to compile stats and start your own blog, go right ahead.

  • vikinggirl

    Poor, angry Flailey. Poor victim. We feel sorry for him.

  • Greg

    How many people are killed each year by cyclists? Hundreds of people are murdered every single year in this city by car drivers in a "hurry" to get somewhere.

    Comparing a 135 pound cyclist on a 20 pound bike moving 5 mph on the sidewalk to a 1500 pound hunk of steel moving 35 mph through a park where children play. Yeah I guess I can see how the two are comparable. Give me a break.

    I can't believe this is a debate about the rights of drivers to drive their cars in a PARK?! Ridiculous.

  • jogger

    It's funny how this has become about good and bad cyclists versus cars. Why? I've watched both videos and neither say that this issue is just about cyclists but rather that it's about people who want to enjoy the park without cars. We see people biking, but we also see joggers, kids, a woman walking her dog, etc.

    But I guess some people just want to use every available opportunity to hate on hipster bikers.

  • http://sustainableflatbush.org Anne (www.sustainableflatbush.org)

    those hunks of steel are going 35 mph if we're lucky!

    each of the 40+ cars entering the park after 7pm represents a vehicle that those inside were not on their guard for because the car-free hours had ended; each one represents a potential accident/injury.

  • vikinggirl

    Poor, poor Flailey. Victim of the yuppies and whites. We feel sorry for him. We do.

  • vikinggirl

    Too late now--but why didn't all o' youse who were fulminating and foaming at the mouth against Flailey simply ignore his amusing and comically deficient reasoning? You wasted your time getting baited into stupid arguments provoked by a stupid person (Flailey). The guy studied at Bob Grant and Rush Limbaugh Universities, obviously, and it shows, in his "intelligent", populist arguments. He's probably from Kansas.

    Viking On (First in America, but we didn't colonize).
    vikinggirl

  • Gourd on a bike

    This is a fucking amazingly rocking site. I'll be checking back.

  • Nobody

    Flailey is an experienced nose-tweaker and I think everyone here was an unwitting victim.

    Supporting evidence:
    http://www.brooklynian.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=65319#65319

  • Sean

    After looking through the pages of the link posted by "Nobody" above, I realized a few things.

    #1 - "Flailey" is joking, mentally ill, or both.
    #2 - The way his absurd comments generated support for cars in the park and focused the debate on bikes, "rich whites," and issues of class seems laughable now.
    #3 - There is a bottom line...The park (Prospect, Central or any other) is no place for cars.

  • r

    I can just imagine Flailey refreshing his browser for hours on end, waiting as the responses roll in to his comments. How sad.

  • http://www.snapedies.com Azzy

    Flaily is totally correct. Cars weren't around before but now they are... it's not a big deal that they are using the park 5 minutes late. What has happened to this country where everyone has sand where it shouldn't be. This hall monitor needs to leave the city if this bothers him.

  • http://www.snapedies.com Azzy (http://www.snapedies.com)

    This is just more "online people getting outraged about everything" and God why do you have to use a word like vlog? People think they are so special. I'm going to post a video about ants coming onto my property from my neighbor's and nothing being done about it. OH THE OUTRAGE

  • http://sustainableflatbush.org Anne (www.sustainableflatbush.org)

    it's not about city workers being 15 minutes late here or there. that is not the issue.

    the issue is that because people in the park are not expecting to encounter cars in the park after 7pm, each of those 40+ vehicles represents a potential accident/injury. simple.

  • huh

    Don't feed the trolls.

  • http://www.alifelessmediated.blogspot.com nickdigital

    I think a larger point is being missed here. Someone took the time to point out a subject of concern that they had in a creative way, and in a way that stimulated discussion.
    There can be no real social change without social interaction and video, especially video online is a great way to facilitate that. Lets use the energy that we could spend on petty name calling and stereotyping and put it to a better use like making our city safer and more enjoyable. Lets stick to constructive and active discussion instead of hiding behind a fake persona so that we can label people.

  • wilson phillips

    "There can be no real social change without social interaction and video"

    Thank god someone invented video then right?

  • heath

    excellent film!!!!!

  • gus

    I noticed that there's a response up on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdR5xPYeuVs&watch_response

    The park opens on time every day. I know because I ride out right as it's opening to cars and there's always a person standing there waiting for the clock to hit the hour on the dot. I ride back in at around 7, but it never closes on time. This is shameful. We want to cure obesity and give people a place to play but we don't give them the time to do it safely. I can't believe where our city's priorities are.

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  • http://aseachange.net Angela

    Ok. so the moral is, let's all just start moving the barriers into place at closing time. Cause the folks working for the parks dept. certainly can't be at all the entrances simultaneously. (does anyone else wonder if all the cars driving through the park during the day, when supposedly it's closed, can really be official?)

  • Stefan

    I find it utterly unbelievable that in a city where cars can hardly go anywhere, and kids have sooooo much space to safely play, and joggers have all the space in the world to run, anybody would have the ridiculous idea to close prospect park for cars; Before you know it, we'll have NOWHERE left to go with our SUVs without stopping every minute. And the park is so laughably big, no wonder theres never a parking spot to be found. If you want a tree, drive upstate is what i say!

    The discussion shouldn't be about opening or closing the park for cars, of for how long; but about the necessity of a park at all.
    Don't just open the park, but destroy it, build an expressway, a couple of big parking lots and i think the neighbourhood could do with a decent shoppingmall finally!

  • PreroBogJeozy

    Although Irin had a powerful gift, she had not honed it to sorcerer level. Savous sighed, closing his eyes and sinking against the rock wall behind him. He nodded, slid an arm about Irins shoulders, and led his truemate from the room. The noise from the spectators filled the wideopen space, excitement building as oiled bodies grappled. She would not cause that fear tonight. Salin and Diana lay in a loose embrace, also watching. Hyles warm smile displayed his confidence. Tossing her ponytail behind her shoulders, Eyrhaen got to her knees and crawled forward. Or even project emotion on him. But that wasnt to be. Not that it moved him. Scowling, she tried to twist away from Lanthan, failing again. I didnt say we werent mad. Care to make it up to us? He found her clit and pushed, making her groan and squeeze. None of the others had been carved to look like a reedy young tree. She considered lighting one or two of the lamps but discarded the idea. But the look on your face tells me theres more. She hardly knew how to ask. I want this time to just be us.

  • https://twitter.com/GeraldF_PE Gerald Fittipaldi

    The streets of the park were designed for people to drive into the park for the purpose of using the park recreationally. These streets are not designed for commuters to use as a cut-through.