Saturday: Ride for Car-Free Central Park

The TransAlt ride will start near Tavern on the Green at 11 a.m.

Central Park should not be a taxi shortcut. Photo: Simon Alexander Jacob/Flickr
Central Park should not be a taxi shortcut. Photo: Simon Alexander Jacob/Flickr

Prospect Park is officially car-free forever, but huge portions of Central Park remain open to motorists. Tomorrow, volunteers with Transportation Alternatives will kick off a campaign to get the cars out of Central Park in 2018.

The event starts with a rally near Tavern on the Green at 11 a.m. Afterward, you can brave the cold on your bike for four laps along the loop below 72nd Street, where cars are still allowed during some weekday hours.

A car-free Central Park is a popular cause, and advocates have made a lot of progress, but the job’s not done yet.

DOT and the Parks Department barred motorists from driving in the park north of 72nd Street in 2015. Below 72nd Street, car traffic still roars on the West Drive and Terrace Drive on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The Center/East Drive between 6th Avenue and Park South and East 72nd Street is a motor vehicle shortcut on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The de Blasio administration remains reluctant to make those remaining segments car-free. “There are a lot of challenges in doing that,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told reporters on Tuesday. “All that’s really left in Central Park is basically the southeastern corridor, which is also the most congested part of the park, so we’re still looking into that.”

You can RSVP for tomorrow’s rally on TransAlt’s website.

  • Vooch
  • jeff

    What, exactly, are the “challenges in doing that,” Ms Trottenberg?

    You’d have to stop letting cars go where they don’t belong for two hours each morning. God forbid! Sounds like a real challenge!

  • It went off pretty well, about fifteen riders showed up, despite the absolute bitter cold. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f911442a289ae30114e4b274126939f0cd21a8c5809e8f2c6058d506e0495401.jpg

  • Joe R.

    Hats off to those who had the time and fortitude to ride in this hellish cold. Actually, keep the hats on but my sentiments are the same.

    I don’t know why it’s taken decades of advocacy to end a practice which never should have been allowed in the first place. Parks are for people, not motor vehicles.

    Even if we succeed getting Central Park closed to cars permanently the battle is only half won until those silly traffic signals go. They should have already been removed in the permanently car-free parts of the park. They give the NYPD yet another excuse to harass cyclists even when they have no potential of causing harm. Get rid of the signals, and then at the busier crossings do the same thing the park’s original designer did, namely install bridges.

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Starting in a few weeks, people will be able to enjoy the Central Park loop north of 72nd Street and the west side of Prospect Park year-round without having to worry about motor vehicle traffic, Mayor de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced this morning. The changes will significantly reduce motor vehicle traffic in both parks while stopping short of […]