Who Can Make Parks Car-Free? Commissioner Hoving Says: “Benepe”

hovings_happenings.jpgThis photo from the Parks Department vault depicts what appears to be a pavement painting during Thomas Hoving’s tenure as commissioner.

If New York City had a livable streets hall of fame, Thomas P. F. Hoving would be enshrined alongside heroes like Jane Jacobs. As Parks Commissioner under Mayor John Lindsay, Hoving spearheaded the original effort to reverse the onslaught of motor vehicle traffic in the city’s flagship parks, instituting the first car-free hours on the Central Park loop drive in 1966. It was a pioneering act of reclamation for pedestrians and cyclists.

Hoving died last week at the age of 78. In his later years, he remained a supporter of car-free parks. After meeting up with Hoving in 2003, car-free Central Park advocate Ken Coughlin received this email, in which the former commissioner explained exactly who has the legal authority to make New York City parks car-free. In light of the NYPD’s recent foray into traffic policy, the message is extremely timely.

The 1961 City Charter provisions stating that Traffic Commissioner is in charge of Traffic Flow but Parks Commissioner can select curb lines and park entrance gates are still in effect. Benepe needs no legislation, executive order or act of the almighty to close 24-7-365. He needs to get his courage perking.

ALL the arguments against any closing which will emerge today surfaced when I closed Central the first time, 6 a.m to 9 a.m. that Sunday

  • Traffic would jam from Tampa to Maine
  • NYC transport systems would collapse
  • Huge economic loss, Etc., etc.

But nothing happened.

In three months — you can even check to Parks Horti records — the trees on the drive flourished. It was as if a cloud of poison had been lifted from them.

Car carbon dioxide is like second-hand smoking. Which suggests that if permanent closing advocates use this as an argument Bloomberg can hardly be against it.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

UWS Shows Support for Car-Free Park, But Broader Campaign Is Lacking

|
Last night’s unanimous votes in support of a summer-long car-free Central Park by Manhattan Community Board 7’s parks and transportation committees moved the ball forward for advocates of car-free parks. With no movement at the mayoral level on the issue, any successful push will have to come from the bottom up. Similar statements of community […]

Official Statement on Central Park Car-Free Hours Increase

|
As we reported yesterday, starting Monday, August 6, Car-Free time in Central Park will be increased by one hour in the morning on the Park’s West Drive. Here are the details from the Dept. of Transportation: New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today announced further […]

Eyes on the Street: T.A. Rings in Bike Month

|
L-R: DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Transportation Alternatives Director Paul Steely White and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe at this morning’s Bike Month NYC event on 9th Avenue. Benepe with White and Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton. Photos: Will Sherman/Transportation Alternatives 

Car-Free Hours Extended in Prospect Park

|
Thanks to Streetsblog tipsters who’ve written in about the evening rush closure of Prospect Park’s East Drive. This sign went up Friday at the corner of Parkside and Ocean Avenues. This just in from DOT: City transportation and parks commissioners today announced the extension of weekday recreational hours in Prospect Park as part of a […]