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Car-Free Parks

Business Honchos Lobby Bloomberg for Car-Free Parks

12:29 PM EDT on June 26, 2008

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It seems elitist "green" types aren't the only ones who think city parks should be reserved for people. A passage from this week's New York Magazine feature "Who Owns Central Park?" reveals that regular Joe business execs recently warned Mayor Bloomberg of the economic consequences of a city so dominated by cars.

Last April, about two dozen executives signed a letter delivered to the mayor’s office arguing that the administration’s car policy is hurting the city’s ability to prevent hedge funds from decamping to Greenwich, or Wall Street jobs’ being shipped overseas. “The talent pool we seek to draw from is increasingly focused upon maintaining personal fitness. They are disproportionately triathletes, marathoners, and the highly fit. Cycling in particular is a key interest, and has become a key business-related networking activity,” the group wrote. “What about the loss of yet another team of financial professionals, formerly based on Wall Street, who decide to move to Connecticut to start a hedge fund, because life is just too difficult in New York City?” 

Though the story focuses on the territorial battles among park users, it reads, "There’s one issue about which runners, cyclists, and dog owners are in full agreement: cars." Says Transportation Alternatives' Paul Steely White: "The anger you see in the park is similar to the ire you see in Park Slope with the double-wide strollers. Our view is, Don’t get mad at the stroller moms. Get mad at the city for providing such limited car-free space.”

Earlier this month, TA was joined by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in calling for a three-month car-free trial for Central Park, based on a study that showed it would reduce cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets. Brooklynites are pushing for a car-free summer in Prospect Park as well. With the city's "Summer Streets" program set to launch this year, keeping cars out of parks seems only logical, but no word as of yet.

Photo: Ed Yourdon/Flickr

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