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Car-Free Parks

Eyes on the Street: The Part of Central Park That’s Only for Cars

Instead of making the park car-free, DOT's pedestrian safety improvements marked off space only for cars. Photo: Stephen Miller
DOT's recent changes to the Central Park Loop, intended to improve pedestrian space, include these markings to designate who belongs where. The safety barrier in the background is removed when cars are allowed in the park. Photo: Stephen Miller
Instead of making the park car-free, DOT's pedestrian safety improvements marked off space only for cars. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Central Park loop now has a 20 mph speed limit, new lane markings, and shorter pedestrian crossings during car-free hours. The changes, implemented last week, came in response to two pedestrian fatalities in separate bicycle collisions over the summer. The park's traffic signals remain unchanged, and the park is still a shortcut for taxis and car commuters during certain hours.

One change in particular should help galvanize the car-free park movement -- the text "CARS ONLY" has been added in giant highway-scale type to the lanes where motor vehicles are allowed.

New markings indicate lower speed limits in advance of pedestrian crossings. Photo: Stephen Miller
New markings urge slower speeds ahead of pedestrian crossings. Photo: Stephen Miller
New markings indicate lower speed limits in advance of pedestrian crossings. Photo: Stephen Miller

NYPD has installed portable electronic signs telling park users that the loop's speed limit has now dropped from 25 to 20 mph. Speed limit signage throughout the park has been replaced, as well. And as loop drive users approach crosswalks, new signage and road markings recommend traveling at 10 mph at the approach to crossings. New signage and barriers have been installed at some crosswalks to mark the pedestrian crossing.

In case it wasn't clear enough who belongs in Central Park. Photo: Stephen Miller
In case it wasn't clear enough. Photo: Stephen Miller
In case it wasn't clear enough who belongs in Central Park. Photo: Stephen Miller

During car-free hours, a barrier and sign are brought onto one of two car lanes south of 72nd Street, narrowing the crossing distance for pedestrians.

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