BREAKING: Cops Close Off Central Park West Near Trump-Branded Hotel
Police have sealed off Central Park West between Columbus Circle and W. 62nd Street citing no specific reason beyond “security concerns at the location,” the NYPD told Streetsblog.
The response came after this outlet reached out to the NYPD for an explanation why cyclists and motorists no longer had access to Central Park West from its southern end — the roadway is popular with cyclists, thanks to the addition of a protected bike lane this year.
Streetsblog had asked the NYPD for comment after a reader tweeted a picture of the police activity earlier on Monday:
The NYPD has completely blocked Centeral Park West and are only allowing cars w/ NYPD placards through. They are forcing Cyclists to detour 3 blocks north on Broadway @TransAlt @StreetsblogNYC pic.twitter.com/s9NRifmeUB
— Austin Jain-Conti (@NYC_Austin) November 9, 2020
But apparently the police activity began over the weekend, when the 2020 presidential election remained in doubt. Bike activist Laura Shepard bemoaned the loss of the roadway for working cyclists:
They were doing it on Friday afternoon. Saw dozens of cyclists on Broadway, where there is no protection from vehicles and lots of drivers speed.
— Laura Shepard (@LAShepard221) November 9, 2020
And Bike New York Communications Director Jon Orcutt, himself a former city official, blasted the NYPD for a single-minded focus that belies the myth of a Vision Zero partnership.
“Why is every ‘security’ move by the NYPD so ham-fisted and divorced from public service and actual public safety?” Orcutt asked. “We urge the police department to allow the bike lane on Central Park West to function normally. It is not close to the Trump building. Having bike riders move through poses zero security risk. Meanwhile the routes around the bike lane detour are car-clogged, offer no protection and do pose real threats to riders’ lives and limbs.”
The NYPD declined to answer our specific questions. A spokeswoman said only, “The area of Central Park West from Columbus Circle to West 62nd Street will be periodically closed off to pedestrian and street traffic until further notice due to security concerns at the location.”
That “location” is adjacent to the Trump International Hotel and Tower, the former Gulf and Western building, which rises over Columbus Circle and Central Park West between 60th and 61st streets. It is famous because after developer and former politician Donald Trump renovated the building, he declared that it had 52 stories when, in fact, it has 44.
The area around Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue also has a permanent NYPD presence.
We reached out to the Department of Transportation for comment. The agency spent a considerable amount of time, effort and money to construct a protected bike lane on Central Park West this year and last. We will update this story if we hear back.
It is unlikely that DOT was consulted. The agency has said the NYPD has broad powers to seal off streets, a power that it has evoked — without discussion — since May when the city became embroiled in protests over the Minneapolis Police killing of George Floyd. The mayor said in August that the practice would stop. It has not.