Council members Mark Levine and Helen Rosenthal have introduced a bill that would close Central Park to cars next summer, allowing the Parks Department to study the effects in advance of a possible permanent ban. Right now, cars are allowed on parts of the loop road during limited times during the day.
Although the park has been partially closed to cars before, including in summer 2013, Rosenthal says that there hasn’t been a full closure that allowed for a study like this.
“The bill would close the Central Park loop to motor vehicles between June 24, 2015 and September 25, 2015, and the Parks Department would be required to present a report on the closure to the City Council no later than December 31, 2015. The study would examine motor vehicle traffic volume on nearby roads, pedestrian traffic flow, environmental impact, and other criteria deemed relevant by the Parks Commissioner. The study would have no effect on the park’s transverse roads.”
They say taking cars out of the park could reduce the congestion on the loop road, which is filled with runners, walkers, bicyclists, pedicab drivers and horse-drawn carriages. “Currently, the Central Park loop is packed with cars, cyclists, and runners all vying for limited space; removing cars from the loop will dramatically reduce the risk of dangerous collisions,” they said.
Levine also pushed for the speed limit to be lowered to 20 mph from 25 in the park following a bicycle crash that killed pedestrian Jill Tarlov. His spokesman tells us that new limit (which would apply to cars and bicycles) could be imposed by the Department of Transportation without a council vote. Rosenthal, whose office considered but then rejected the idea of making bicyclists use license plates, has not released any other proposals.
Photo by J Biochemist.