The city is blocking cars from driving on the loop road North of 72nd street starting today through the end of the summer. Before the change, cars could drive on the West Drive from 8 to 10 a.m., and on the East Drive from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Now they can only drive on the transverse roads that go East-West across the park and on the loop road South of 72nd street. (Cars already aren’t allowed in the park on weekends.)

Various bicycling and pedestrian-safety activists have been pushing for this change for years. Cars cut off two lanes from the road and create bottlenecks in certain areas. The city says that few cars are even in the park anymore and more and more people are using the drives for recreation: “Pedestrians and bicyclists on the park drives outnumber cars by 3 to 1 during the summer, when citywide traffic volumes are at their lowest, and local avenues are expected to see traffic volumes comparable to what they already see in other months. DOT will monitor the closure until limited hours return on Sept. 3.” Councilwoman Gale Brewer and others are hoping the ban gets extended longer, and for the entire park.

One question: Do there need to be so many police cars on the drives on the weekends? There seem to be an increasing number  of them even though there aren’t many crimes going on on sunny days (despite the recent uptick in crime in the park, there’s still fewer than 2 major crimes in the park per week).

Image via DOT.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 9 comments | permalink
    1. Cato says:

      Umm, wait a second — there are few crimes in the park, so let’s cut down on the police presence?

      Maybe it’s the police presence that has *caused* the reduction in the crime rate?

      I, for one, don’t mind them there at all. I’d rather have the police there than the bad guys.

      And, while we’re at it: Maybe the City could consider extending the vehicular ban to bicycles, so those of us on two feet could walk safely without fear of being run over by the zoomzoomzoom Spandex weekend Tour de France-ers looking to break the world land-speed record?

      Just a thought.

      Love that word: “velophobe”. Actually, I’m more of a “hurt-o-phobe”.

    2. YankeeDOc says:

      Ok – so traffic throughout the city is a nightmare due to bike lanes and pedestrian malls and construction – so – the answer is – take out more ways for cars to get through the city!! Such a masterful traffic plan! I did not know they teach that in traffic engineering school!!

      WHat they should to is open the Park Drives 24/7 to cars – remove ALL bike lanes and pedestrian malls in the city – and give the roads BACK to the cars that are the life blood of the city. People have sidewalks to walk on – and bicycles – well – go WITH traffice slowly and you will safe on the streets – its when you zig in and out that it is dangerous!!

      Give the streets back to cars!!!

      • WKM says:

        YankeeDOc….I’ll assume you’re joking, regarding the need for more vehicle traffic?!? I think Manhattan should be vehicle free, except obviously for emergency and delivery vehicles. There is absolutely no need to drive through this borough.

        • YankeeDoc says:

          No, WKM, I am decidedly NOT joking. The streets are made for Vehicles. Get the bikes and pedestrians off them. Get rid of the bike lanes and the pedestrian malls. Allow traffic to flow again. Used to be able to go from the UWS in the 100’s to the low teens in 15-20 min via Park Drive then 7th Avenue and now that is a nightmare. The center of Manhattan needs more ways to travel to avoid the bridge and tunnel traffic on the rivers.

          • Cato says:

            Ah, yes, “the streets are made for vehicles”. I guess that means we have to allow smoking in any building that still has built-in ashtrays, right?

            The grid of streets made sense in the horse-and-buggy days when it was first conceived. Then came the internal combustion engine, which of course was an engine for the external spewing of gaseous poisons and the consumption of large quantities of petroleum products. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, we don’t have unlimited access to that stuff anymore. We also have mass transit to move people much more economically and efficiently.

            There’s no longer a need, or even a rational justification, to give motor vehicles the primacy they once had on the tiny island of Manhattan. Sure, we need ambulances; sure, we need deliveries. But please don’t say that the existence of streets justifies the herds of BMWs that tool around needlessly on this island, belching their fumes and obstructing the free movement of humans locomoting under human power.

            Get the pedestrians off the streets to clear the way for the Mercedeses and Audis? That’s just nuts.

    3. denton says:

      The elimination of car traffic from Central Park is a foregone and welcome conclusion. When I was younger there were three lanes of traffic, now two, and this is obviously a welcome prelude to getting rid of the last one. People go to the park for a little bit of nature and quiet, not traffic.

      And, I own not one but two BMWs. Once can be a car owner and be for more open space at the same time. It’s not like I drive to work every day.

      Having said that, maybe the police can get serious about enforcing that everyone runs and rides in the same direction, and figure out what to do about making the lights work less for cars and more for pedestrians.

      PS: There isn’t more Manhattan traffic in recent years because of bike lanes, there’s more because of new building after new building full of high income residents, many of whom own cars.

    4. some dude says:

      It all boils down to the people being moved. The amount of single occupancy vehicles clogging up the streets is what people should be pissed about. Why does a single person steering a several ton vehicle get special treatment over an individual pedaling a bike when it’s moving the same number of humans? Streets should be for emergency vehicles, trucks, and taxis & car services first. Instead, we basically reserve two lanes on every street for parked private cars that aren’t even moving, often for free or at non-competitive prices. And then we get to hear jackasses like YankeeDOC complain about bikes? And don’t get me started on the fact that most of those bicycles are being ridden by actual residents of the city who pay taxes for the streets, unlike most of the car-wielding public.

    5. Bob says:

      I 100% agree with YankeeDoc. The streets are made for vehicles, period. I am so sick and tired of the “war on cars” mentality of some of these idiots. There are tons of people who reverse commute out of the city who can’t take public transportation. Just because you don’t need a car, doesn’t mean that others have that option. Until we have magical transporters, cars must be the priority on city streets.

    6. DMH says:

      Well, shall we rip out the sidewalks and cancel the Thanksgiving Day parade? Drop a gas station where Tavern on the Green used to be?  The streets are for cars, period, and some people have spots in the West Village they need to drive to.  Really?

      Before the change, drivers could take the West Side Highway or 21 north-south lanes of traffic in the half-mile from WEA to CPW.  After the change, they STILL can take the West Side Highway or 21 north-south lanes of traffic in the half-mile from WEA to CPW.  Cars and trucks double-park on all the avenues, causing a lot of slower traffic, unfortunately. Nearly 4 years after the CB7 approved bike lanes on Columbus and Amsterdam Ave, there is only a north-bound bike lane up CPW and less than a mile of a south-bound bike lane down Columbus.  They are beloved, and welcome.  In addition to the beautiful world-class parks and healthy foot traffic we all love on the UWS, many people are cycling to their jobs, or to visit friends and families, or local shops, restaurants, museums and attractions.  I think maybe this gets forgotten…