Confirmed: DOT Studying More Car-Free Time in Central Park

Last week, automated traffic counters were seen popping up on the loop drive in Central Park. That led many to believe that the Department of Transportation was gathering data to set a baseline for future changes to the hours cars are allowed into the park, a fact which has now been confirmed.

Wrote Manhattan DOT Commissioner Margaret Forgione in a letter to Community Board 7 Chair Mel Wymore [PDF], whose board led the push for a car-free trial:

“We recently received and reviewed your resolution to implement a pilot program to establish a car-free summer on Central Park’s Drives. While there are no changes planned at this time, we will be collecting data this summer on the volume and speeds of vehicles using both the Park Drives and the surrounding streets. This data can inform any future plans for reducing the amount of time that the Park Drives are open to vehicular traffic.”

A summertime trial of a car-free Central Park has earned the support of every community board in Manhattan but one, several City Council members, and Borough President Scott Stringer. Even so, that proposal was rejected for this summer by Mayor Bloomberg, who preferred to study traffic patterns more before even testing out a car-free park. Those studies are now officially underway.

  • Anonymous

    It can’t come soon enough for the park’s horses:

    http://gothamist.com/2011/07/26/cab_crashes_into_carriage_horse_nea.php

  • Anonymous

    It can’t come soon enough for the park’s horses:

    http://gothamist.com/2011/07/26/cab_crashes_into_carriage_horse_nea.php

  • JB

    All you need to do is ride or jog at 6 pm on the east side of the park to see how dangerous  it is with all the congestion, with cars outnumbered 7:1

  • hopefully by next year they have a solution

  • Anonymous

    We didn’t get a car-free trial this summer, but it appears from the letter that DOT created a page in response to the community board resolutions (at least it’s new to me).  See http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/bikes-centralpark.shtml
    The page presents a chronology, based on TA’s own, of the now 45-year campaign to scale back car access to the loop road.  Reading the list of piecemeal steps, one every five years or so, with a prolonged drought during the 80s, is a lesson in the power of the automobile and in politicians’ fear of taking a privilege away from the motorist minority.  Now we’re finally on the brink of writing the last entry in that chronology.  DOT seems proud that no other administration has advanced the ball so far up the field.  I’m sure it will not want to see the next administration get the credit for taking it the final 10 yards into the end zone.  

  • Mike

    Has everyone forgotten Prospect Park exists?

  • anonymous

    Commuting through the Park on 72nd St Drive, to and from work, is frightening during the hours cars are allowed.  Riding a bike on the lower loop in the morning leads to harassment by the few cars that begin coming through at 7:15 am.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a motor vehicle traveling at less than 25 mph, which is way too fast a speed limit in the Park. 

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