Thursday: Speak Up for Cross-Town Central Park Bike Paths

A Central Park cyclist was killed at this pinch point on the 66th St. transverse in 2006. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/11992136@N08/1202252273/in/set-72157601595007852/## rusticumjudicium via Flickr##

A plan to open Central Park to east-west bike traffic is poised to move forward, and proponents are encouraged to turn out Thursday night to voice their support.

Phase one of the Central Park Conservancy project, which took root last year, will convert two existing pedestrian paths for shared use in the northern area of the park, one around 103rd St. and one near the 97th St. transverse. If all goes well, the conservancy plans to revamp three additional paths to the south — one south of the 86th St. transverse, another near the 72nd St. transverse, and a third to the south of the Sheep Meadow, in the mid-60s. Only two of the trails, 103rd St. and 72nd St., will require engineering work beyond markings and signage.

The plan is not subject to community board approval, and though Community Board 8 does not border the part of the park involved in phase one, the conservancy will on Thursday night present its plans to the CB 8 parks committee. As Streetsblog readers know, CB 8 is not known for its hospitable attitude toward cyclists. As always, the more friendly faces at this meeting, the better.

The benefits of cycling as transportation being self-evident and all, talking points abound. But the primary reason these trails are necessary is that cyclists currently have no direct way to cross the park that is both legal and safe. The transverses at present are deadly by design, and the city has no plans for improvements that would prevent crashes like the one that killed a cyclist on the 66th St. transverse in 2006.

If you can make it, let CB 8 know that thousands of bike-riding park users need routes that will allow them to go east and west without breaking the law or risking their lives. Details on the meeting are here.

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