Rumor Mill: City Collecting Data for Car-Free Central Park?

Central Park advocate Ken Coughlin tells us he’s spotted a traffic counting strip on the park loop, near Tavern on the Green.

The theory is that the city is gathering traffic data this summer as a baseline for a car-free park trial next year. That would jibe with recent remarks from Mayor Bloomberg and references to park data collection reported in the Times earlier this month.

Over the spring, supporters of a car-free trial lined up endorsements from every community board surrounding the park, and had hoped to free the park for recreational use from the July 4 weekend until Labor Day. The mayor was unmoved to implement a trial this year, but recently hinted that something might move forward once the city collected sufficient data.

“We are doing studies,” Bloomberg said on July 12. “Until we really can understand the traffic patterns and what effect it will have, we’re just not going to go and rush to do it.”

A request to DOT for confirmation that the city is indeed counting cars in the park was not immediately answered.

  • Albert

    Well, if it’s now “too late” for a car-free trial this summer, there’s still time to start one during the week of NYC marathon preparation (when the Central Park loop has always been closed to traffic anyway and has already been shown *not* to cause that ol’ feared “traffic nightmare”) and continue the trial through the end of the year (when the loop has always been quietly closed to traffic from Thanksgiving through New Years Day — up until 2009, that is).

    That ought to set drivers’ minds at rest, as it wouldn’t be anything new.

  • Anonymous

    On the contrary, Thanksgiving to New Years was the time when the city traditionally felt it “necessary” to suspend weekday car-free hours.  I’m sure this would not be their first choice for a trial closing, although doing so would reinforce the city’s overall message to take mass transit and not a car to Midtown during this period.  

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