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: ## 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.

  • Anonymous

    i think this is a good plan.

  • kevd

    Sadly, any path through Central Park will close at 1 am.
    What about us night owls who want to not die while trying to cross the park?
    A lane, or better street design on a couple transverses would help us.

  • I don’t like this, it basically takes space from pedestrians to make space for cars, by moving the bikes over into the pedestrian space. You think that maybe they could do something about how fast the cars go when they’re supposed to be doing 25 MPH? Or has that improved since the last speed survey back in 2006, that had a 99+% non-compliance rate? Are drivers doing 40-50 MPH through the park still?

  • Albert

    Even better would be a policy that specifically allowed bicyclists (or anyone) to *travel* through the park 24 hours a day ( i.e., non-loiterers), at least on the loop.

    Cop to 2 AM bicyclist: “Please keep riding, sir!  Kindly, do not stop here, as it is after 1 AM and our park is closed to those who are not actually transiting.  And thank you for patronizing Central Park, the Jewel of New York City parks.”

    Response: “Certainly, Officer!  And have a fine evening.”

  • kevd

    I don’t know if it would be “better” but I’m certainly in favor.
    Though, I’d say just leave the loops open to everyone.  I knew a guy who sometimes like to jog prospect park at 3am.

  • Jayn King

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about….the pedestrians have most of the park and the park is huge. It should only be a minor challenge to create a way for bikes to cross the park safely and legally. This should have been done years ago….I commute across the park several days a week. I used to bike along the less traveled pedestrian paths and go slowly on the more crowded ones, and never had a problem with that.
    But times have changed. Since they started ticketing bikes and putting up signs on the paths, I’ve taken the transverse most of the time, and it feels like I’m risking my life every time I do it. 
    The road has no shoulder, and it’s a mess. There are deep potholes at the side of the road inside the tunnels where it’s difficult to see them—… the transverse at 86th has been under repair for ages: basically cars have to pass you by inches on an ill-repaired, shoulderless road with tunnels and curves. Today,the M86 bus stayed behind me the entire trip, because he/she didn’t want to risk passing me (double bus-= especially dangerous)A few weeks ago, I was riding the same bus when it did pass a bicyclist, and talked to the driver….he was basically living in fear of running a bicycle over, and it was obvious why. He seemed to have the idea that it was ok and indeed better, for us to ride on the sidewalk in the transverse….wrong Idea, believe me. the sidewalk is full of holes and gaps, and , believe it or not there are actually people walking on it too. We NEED this. We shouldn’t have to choose between risking our lives or risking a ticket.


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