Barricades and dividers will be placed at select intersections as part of a new Central Park loop road plan. Rendering via city Department of Transportation.
The city has outlined plans to change the loop road in Central Park, reducing the speed limit to 20 mph from 25 and creating new separations between pedestrians and bicyclists. At certain intersections, new signs and blockades will try to minimize conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists.
Two pedestrians have been killed this year by bicyclists on the loop road and bike-on-pedestrian collisions had risen 52% year-over-year as of last month. Police have also been increasing summonses: “The Central Park Pct. has so far issued 865 tickets to cyclists this year compared to 212 over the same period last year as of November 12th,” according to A Walk in the Park.
There are quite a few changes coming to the park. Here’s how the city explains it:
“The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, NYPD, and the Central Park Conservancy today announced immediate safety enhancements along the Central Park Drives. In addition to a reduction of the speed limit inside Central Park from 25 to 20 MPH for all modes of transportation, four key crossings across the park will receive substantial enhancements, including highly prominent “Pedestrian Crossing” warning signs at the intersections, advisory 10 MPH speed signs, and advance pedestrian crossing signs before each intersection. The advance signs will be reinforced with roadway markings near the sign locations, refurbished crosswalks and clearer lane use markings.
Barricades will also be installed to shorten pedestrian crossing distance on the West Drive at two crossings (at Sheep Meadow, near W. 68th Street, and at Heckscher Ballfields, near E. 63rd Street) where the drive is significantly wider than typical. The barricades will be placed in the west-most motor vehicle lane during car-free hours. At Delacorte Theater (near W. 81st Street), a barricade will be installed between the pedestrian and bicycle lanes to better guide pedestrians to the crosswalk.
The four locations to receive these treatments include:
• West Drive at Delacorte Theater (near W. 81st Street)
• West Drive at Sheep Meadow (near W. 68th Street)
• West Drive at Heckscher Ballfields Crossing (near E. 63rd Street)
• East Drive at Terrace Drive (near E. 72nd Street)
The Central Park Precinct will continue its public awareness campaign in the park to inform every one of the rules and regulations as it relates to traffic and pedestrian safety. Individuals found in violation of the rules will be cited accordingly.”
Council members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine are also pushing a bill to make the park off-limits to cars next summer, and possibly permanently.
Several readers suggested adding speed bumps at select intersections, but those doesn’t appear to be part of the plan. Will these changes make the park safer? Take our poll below, and let us know in the comments.
These proposed changes seem aimed at motorists, which is fine, but the vast majority of offenders that I witness on my daily walks through the park are cyclists who do not stop on a red light at the crosswalks AND pedestrians who cross when they don’t have a walk signal.
Things would be simpler if we got cars out of the park altogether.
I agree. Get rid of the cars. The park is supposed to be a sanctuary from such things.
Agreed – cars out!
I am very surprised, this is a lot more than I thought DOT was willing to do to enhance safety in the parks.
How about putting push-to-cross traffic signals at Central Park crosswalks? Pedestrians would get the walk signal when they’re crossing, and cyclists would see a green light all other times. Every rinkydink town has push-to-cross; I think NYC can afford them.
NYC, particularly the Upper West Side, had push-to-cross signals. These were deactivated in the mid- to late-1980s. Go to WEA and 68th St, or Riverside Drive. They’re still there. Non-operational, but still there.
The problem with the push-to-cross signals is that motorists and cyclists may have a green at the prior light and assume the next traffic light will be green, too; drivers/cyclists increase their speed and may either breeze through the red light completely or have to come to a screeching halt….which doesn’t always happen.
Most motorists are on the lookout for red lights. I maintain that the core issue is the cyclists. They choose some rules from the car handbook, some rules from the pedestrian rules, and combine them e.g. going through lights, riding on the sidewalk, etc.
Why are cyclists blamed for everything that goes wrong? Peestrians are as much at fault for walking on bike lanes as the reverse is true. The park has not addressed the needs of cyclists who use the park for crosstown access. Nobody distinguishes between reasonable cyclists and those “Tour de France” cyclists who think the park is their private cyclodrome. I have yet to see the park take a good look at the needs of cyclist — it’s easier to blame them for everything. And. . . I am very much in favor of banning automobiles from the park altogether — this should be the first priority,
It is nice to see them put some effort into this, but i don’t know if I am entirely happy with the results. I think the biggest improvemnt to park safety prior to this was the revised lanes of travel and more room for pedestrians. Now they are adding a pinch point that will force cyclists (and pedi-cabs, parks trucks, police cars) to the left closer to the pedestrian lane. This sounds like a disaster. Wasn’t the last accident caused by a rapid change of direction and not being able to control his bike? They might as well put a parking spot of the ambulance on the other side of these narrowed intersections.
The other part i hate to see, do we really need to more than double the speed limit signs? It is a beautiful park and it is getting treated like a highway.
Agreed regarding the pinch points; there are barricades narrowing the bike lane on the west side greenway, and I think they are more dangerous than helpful.
I agree that cars should be out of the park, but maybe theres some compromise. Cabs/HOV only perhaps?
These changes are ugly as sin. I think you’d get the same results with half the aesthetic detriment with a series of rumble strips or speed humps.
Has anyone who is suggesting speed bumps ever ridden a bike over a speed bump? That is a terrible idea. Cyclists have a right to enjoy their ride just as joggers have a right to enjoy their run.
“Has anyone who is suggesting speed bumps ever ridden a bike over a speed bump?”
If you are not going fast this isn’t a problem. It is a problem if you are doing speed work for an upcoming race. On the news this week a woman said the only place to get in speed training for an upcoming race is Central Park!!
Like gun owners the race bike crowd have responsibilities that they selfishly want to avoid.
CP on the west side is a HOV 2 lane. They do ticketing stops on a occasion in the mornings. It is usually tied to when they are doing overall enforcement push in the park.
My question is: will bikes continue to be allowed to go in either direction? That’s a huge problem. All traffic: bikes, cars, maybe even walkers and strollers should go in the same direction if they’re on the roads. That would go a long way towards creating a safer environment.
they say speed bumps kill cycling, and stop lights too. But cycling kills walkers.
Now you can’t step into any street or path without stopping and looking both ways for bikes. Many whiz around corners just as the light changes–very dangerous. Walkers have to constantly be on the alert.
Walkers can’t always go in 1 direction, depending on their destination in the park, and where they start from. Not dangerous to go in opposite direction as walker or jogger.
It’s vehicles of steel on wheels that are dangerous. Many bikers don’t have lights at night and wear dark clothing. Maybe walkers should start wearing lights so they’ll be seen in the dark by the bikers.
City officials are responsible for this unsafe situation, b/c they strongly promoted biking with no safety rules or penalties. Very irresponsible and unrealistic.The city has given bikers a pass, and now we have deaths.
Plus I read, about 35 accidents in the park this year, with a few skull fractures. This was reported in the West Side Spirit. A bike can knock you down at 10 miles/hour.
What do other cities and countries do with long traditions of biking?
FYI, bikes are NOT technically allowed to go in both directions. Unfortunately, the rule is rarely enforced. They need more/clearer signs about this — I get the feeling that many people don’t realize they’re supposed to go only one direction, and that it’s dangerous to do otherwise on the congested loop.
Honestly, I think in general it’s not so much that we need new rules as that we need to enforce the ones we already have — speed limits, observing lights and crosswalks, etc. And that applies to cyclists, cars, and pedestrians. If we all heeded those rules, we could eliminate pretty much all of the accidents in the park.
“FYI, bikes are NOT technically allowed to go in both directions.”
Well, technically they’re not allowed to plough over pedestrians, either.
That said, I fully agree with (and endorse) your statement that “it’s not so much that we need new rules as that we need to enforce the ones we already have”.
I use the park regularly for walking and for commuting to midtown by bike on weekdays.
1) 865 tickets to bikers. How many to pedestrians? Number should be equal if the goal is to prevent accidents. Should runners also be obliged to stop for red lights? Or only bikes?
2) Lights in the park should not be the same as on the streets in terms of frequency, particularly during commuting times. There are few pedestrians and many bikers and runners. Frequency of red lights for bikers should be lessened.
Regarding ticketing of bikers, there should be some common sense. If a light is red and there are pedestrians, then a biker should clearly stop to yield to pedestrians. But if there are no pedestrians at all, a biker should be permitted to glide through. Although NYC doesn’t have yield to pedestrian signs, most of the country does.
Although this is totally unrelated, I would also like to see amplified music prohibited in the park except for approved concerts. The roller skating circle on weekends blares music that makes it impossible for me to enjoy the park. I am all for drum circles and for any non-amplified musical instruments, but anything that is driven by a battery should not be allowed. I understand that there is probably a generational and cultural divide on this issue, but NYC is a noisy and at times vulgar place. The park should be an escape from the loud and harsh edges of the city.
My 2 cents.
The automatic low lights in the crosswalk that flash if someone is crossing are a much better idea of cyclists who tend to look down. Plus, it’s not that they don’t know that there are crosswalks, it’s that they don’t think that they need to step for pedestrians or at lights in general.
Having the automatic flashing LED in the crosswalk would be better because they only go off if someone is in the crosswalk, unlike traffic lights which change whether or not someone is there, leading to cyclists ignoring them.
BTW, cars are not a problem in the Park. They never have been. It’s the cyclists that are the problem because they don’t stop and have killed two people in the past year. Everyone talking about banning cars is distracting from the real problem, but politically bicycles=good, cars=bad. Let’s not be that simplistic.
Ban the wearing of Spandex by cyclists on the Park roads.
If they can’t play Lance Armstrong maybe they’ll find someplace else to zoooooom through. No more speed problem!
But putting up signs, even more of them, telling all the little Lance-wannabes what speed limit they are breaking ain’t gonna do diddly.
Seems simple. Cars only on traverse! No need to allow cars anywhere else. and then just put some occasional speed bumps leading up to crosswalks that are fine at 10mph but bad at speeds above that. Done!
As long as cops ignore tourist riding any which way they want, and pedi cabs breaking the law requiring them to ride to extreme right vs every which way as they do now, and as long as dog people let their dogs run on the loop or on the bridle path without a leash (also against the law at all times), and as long as pedestrians and runners run, walk, or cross anywhere in the park regardless of lights or directions with or without ear buds in, then these new rules will do nothing to improve anyone’s safety anywhere in Central Park.
All it will do is make NYC a less fun place for people who just love to ride their bikes, since all of Central Park’s woes are being blamed upon cyclists as if there were just one kind of cyclist (or motorist, or pedestrian, or woman, or Jew, or Black, or Arab, or etc, etc, etc, etc).
Bono taking a pretty bad spill might just be what it takes to open the eyes of our celebrity-worshipping politicians.
These changes are welcome, but I don’t think they will do enough to protect pedestrians. The real problem is a subset of high-speed cyclist who already ignore the signals and are unlikely to be deterred by these changes. If these are coupled with regular enforcement, however, that would make a real difference. We need to make it as shocking (and potentially costly) for a cyclist to run a red light as it is for a car.
Good beginning. Need to address pedestrians crossing roadway randomly and not at crosswalks. Fencing should be considered as they currently use during large attendance concerts in the park. No reason to allow cars in at all. Big problem when cars and Horses/Pedibikes have to share road. Cars end up in bike and running lanes.
The speed hungry cyclists will ignore these crossings and carry on as usual. The only thing that will stop them is getting consistently pulled over by the police. Cars are not the problem in the park; in fact they keep the spandex cyclists in line. Consistently giving cyclists summons is the only solution. And let it count as points on their driving licenses. An irresponsible bicyclist probably equally irresponsible driver.
The best idea is no car traffic along the interior roads of the park. It makes no sense and I just can’t the see convenience for two hours a weekday.
i know this comment is late and do not know if things have been implemented yet. The lowered speed limit would not be needed if red lights were enforced with cameras and crossing gaurds. At the advanced signs, blinking lights would be a good visual aid like at train crossings to help them be seen. also a count down timer to the red light. the stop lights need to be timed so that if you maintain the speed limit you will never have to stop at a crosswalk. For the cyclists working on their fitness and endurance, good luck on maintaining a elevated HR.
Its really going to suck for the A class riders that cruise at 25mph. They will most likely abandon central park and head north on the streets. good luck to everyone. I hope its done correctly and not haphazardly.