Eyes on the Street: New Stripes for Pedestrians and Cyclists in Central Park

Workers applying bicycle markings on West Drive in the 80s. Photo: Rod Huntress

Last month, Streetsblog reported that the Central Park loop would be getting a new lane configuration to clarify where pedestrians and cyclists belong, similar to changes recently implemented in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Less than 30 days after the announcement, walkers, joggers, and bike riders are all getting some extra room in the park, while the space for cars has been narrowed to one lane, calming vehicular traffic. Reader Rod Huntress sent in these photos from a ride this morning.

Council Member Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, said the fix has been widely welcomed. “Everybody seems pleased with the process and the outcome,” she said.

West Drive near the 90th Street entrance is already receiving the new treatment. Photo: Rod Huntress
  • Dn Kpln

    by the old tavern on the green, the lane for bikes was not clearly marked and cars were driving in it this morning

  • Dn Kpln : yes, this was all still in process this morning and I saw several drivers shift back over to the right. I’m hopeful it will be better tomorrow morning. I just took a walk into the park via 6th Ave and East Drive, where DOT was putting what looks like finishing touches on the lanes over there, and once cars got past the DOT vehicle they were sticking their lane, between the bike lane and the pedicab/horse-drawn carriage lane. 

  • I meant that I saw drivers shift back over to the left lane . . . 

  • Danny G

    @twitter-230310109:disqus @1ded8aa37aae67df27d63e7689c87fde:disqus If you can figure out a way to paint the lines so that as the entire park is being striped, it remains clearly marked at every point along the way who should be where, then:
    1) I would be genuinely impressed, and
    2) You deserve their job.

  • Bob

    Do you all think this is a step towards a car-free park or a step back?

  • Jeff

    They’re going to use that bike lane as a passing lane, I guarantee it.  That’s just how they are.  They get frustrated, and feel entitled to externalize those frustrations onto others.  They’re basically like toddlers.  If one of them decides to go less than five miles per hour over the speed limit, they’re going to tailgate each other, honk, and erratically swerve into the bike lane to pass each other.  Then the Daily News and the Post are going to look at this childish behavior as proof that we should give them their toys back.

  • @820d0e4ee14e986a44d33782ca852f51:disqus  I do think it’s a big step toward a car-free park. I think fewer drivers will use it b/c they will perceive that the park is no longer a fast shortcut (reality aside) because they now truly have to share the road. Traffic volumes will drop, cycling will increase during commuting hours, and there will be fewer and fewer park drivers to cater to. Volumes won’t justify ongoing use for car traffic. Call me optimistic.
    @7e1970922cf83fe54c9f1a64d1af39c9:disqus Based on what I saw morning, noon, and night today, I don’t think a lot of drivers are going to be using the bike lanes as travel or passing lanes. There are enough bicyclists in the park during those hours that drivers just won’t be able to do so very often. I would like to see NYPD or Parks out enforcing right now, and didn’t see that today. Call me *cautiously* optimistic. 

  • Ben Kintisch

    Be patient, folks. There were some skeptics about the Prospect Park reconfiguration and I think now, some months later, it’s just a tremendous improvement for everybody. Remember that this is the most famous park in all of NYC. I’d like to see DOT/Parks work together on making park drives and roads more bike and pedestrian friendly in ALL of the big parks in the city, i.e. Flushing Meadows/Corona, Van Cortlandt, etc. etc.
    And yes, perhaps as the traffic volumes steadily come down and bike/ped volumes increase, eventually cars will no longer be allowed.

  • Zachberman

    Jeff, in Prospect Park, drivers do use the bike lane for passing, usually because a parks vehicle is parked in the car lane. The first few weeks they did a lot more passing just for speed, but then they got used to the new configuration.

    What I would like to see more of is speed limit signs. The entire Prospect Park has two maybe three speed limit signs, with different numbers on them. Even without being able to pass, cars regularly travel what seems like 40, and is certainly 30mph. If we could get them down to 20, it would be a great next baby step toward prioritizing bikes and pedestrians.

  • Anonymous

    Speaking as someone who was skeptical of the Prospect Park redesign, I can say I’ve been very impressed with how much this has improved the cycling experience there–and, I’d bet, the experience for walkers and joggers. (Roller bladers–no comment.) Drivers don’t normally use the bike lane as a passing lane and the simple fact is that cars generally move more slowly. Psychopaths will be psychopaths but the overall experience is better.

  • Anonymous

    I ride through Central Park several times a week, and my one-day experience with the new configuration has been positive. But I did see a livery cab driver use the bike lane to pass a horse-drawn carriage (are there any in Prospect Park)? The southeast corner of the loop, where there’s the carriage and pedicab traffic is the thickest and the roadway is narrowest, does have what looks like a shoulder that should help mitigate the problem, but maybe it wasn’t enough for this driver.

    I expect this type of conflict to continue, but it’s still better than what we had before, which was pedestrians occupying 100% of the bike lane while cyclists try to squeeze by in the narrow buffer between the “bike lane” and the two car lanes.

    I do hope that this is a step towards a car-free park, but I’m afraid that’s still years away. If you ask about it too soon, they’ll say “but we just reconfigured the park! the paint isn’t even dry!”

  • @qrt145:disqus   Wait until it snows. 🙂

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