End of a Pastoral Shortcut for Central Park’s Drivers

Jun 26, 2015 · 124 comments
Jim (NYC)
Relentlessly clueless populist. The 25 mph speed limit is a very clear example of how clueless de Blasio actually is. Really, really miss Ed Koch.
Andrew (Harlem)
No. The 25 mph speed limit is a very clear example of how in touch de Blasio is with the reality that nobody ever deserves to have their lives torn apart by a driver's self-entitled recklessness. Even 25 mph on urban streets is too fast, but it's a start.
Hal (New York)
>(Parks department and other official vehicles will still be able to use the road.)

Still be able to and indeed they will. There will continue to be, as in the past, a non-stop stream of "official" and "parks" vehicles taking their own pastoral shortcut through the park with the occupants not actually doing anything for the benefit of the park.
E C (New York City)
Fantastic idea! get rid of all Central Park car traffic except for the East-West routes.
Soleil (Montreal)
The semi-professional racing cyclists and wanna-be companions racing downhill on the west driver are particularly dangerous to pedestrians and strollers. If we really speak of 'the park and the people', it would be limited to pedestrians and strollers/vehicles only for those in need of assistance.
Mr. Voice-of-Reason (Boulder, CO)
Loud applause. Standing ovation. That's a big win for the people who visit the park.

Below 72nd street, until they eliminate cars completely, they should limit the cars to ONE lane. That would slow the cars down and make more room for the bikers, the horse and carriages, and pedestrians.
Navigator (Brooklyn)
eliminating car traffic will empower the crazier cyclists to pull out the stops and go 60 m.p.h. At least one can hear a car approaching. Cyclists are much deadlier.
Martin (Manhattan)
Thank you, Mayor de Blasio. When Olmstead and Vaux envisioned vehicles in the park, that meant carriages pulled by trotting horses. A trotting horse goes about 8 miles and hour. When I walk to work through the park on weekday mornings, the cars whiz by at 30-40 MPH on the west drive. Good riddance! Now if only the psycho cyclists would disappear...
MadlyMad (Los Angeles)
And now those carriage horses should be restricted to the Park again where their lack of speed will be of no risk to the bikers, strollers, etc. And the risk to the horses will be lessened as well.
JFXC (Palm Beach)
"The park, Bitterman. Drive through the park. You know how I love the park!"

Alas, poor Arthur
Jeffrey B. (Greer, SC)
JFXC, brilliant. I wish I had thought of it.
vishmael (madison, wi)
"Home, James, and through the park." Clip-clop-clip-clop, days of the carriage trade fading, fading . . .
jastro (New York)
Another bad idea from the Mayor
David C. Clarke (4107)
Another quintessential New York experience fades away. Having been a pedestrian and a motorist in Central Park I do agree that this is great idea if you are a pedestrian.

I will miss driving and being driven in Central Park. During the weekdays the Central Park roads provided a near “worm hole” between 57th street and 91st street. How many times have you said to a taxi driver “take the park!” And there is that moment when a taxi approaches an entrance to the park and you think to yourself “yes let’s take the park.” It’s like a little vacation in the middle of your day. When is “taking the park” not a good idea? If you are going to sit in traffic the park is a much nicer place to do it. Let’s not forget the most unforgivable of taxi driver transgressions; not taking the park when they could have.

So many moonlit nights riding home from Studio 54 through the park…

Driving in Central Park is as close as most New Yorkers will ever get to being a racing car driver. Full acceleration off the light, that little dip in the road at Cleopatra’s Needle, accelerating out of the turns at 86th street followed by the straightaway from 86th to 96th at full speed - lookout cyclists and joggers!

Sad to see it go but we can still make left turns from the right lane and parallel park from the sidewalk; and if you time it just right and have a fast enough car, late at night you can still make it from 86th street to 72nd street on Park Avenue on one light.
Andrew (Harlem)
This comment is so irresponsible! You lament that drivers will no longer be able to gun it through Central Park at "full speed"? That's exactly how innocent cyclists and joggers -- the ones you urge to "look out!" -- get killed!

When taxi drivers injure and kill vulnerable road users every day, how can you possibly say that "the most unforgivable of taxi driver transgressions" is declining to drive through the park? That claim is shameful and ignorant.
David C. Clarke (4107)
Its a joke Andrew...
J (Manhattan)
*(continued because I will be silenced), those humdrum fitness fanatics who only appreciate the lush nature, and not the sheer raw power one feels driving through this park. They will never know, as you and I know, David. They cannot even possibly imagine. I rally with you!
Peter (New York, NY)
What this will mean is that aggressive speeding cyclists will take over these roads immediately. And these cyclists, who arrogantly treat pedestrians as obstacles and who think they own the roads even more so than vehicular drivers, are even more of a danger than cars. As a pedestrian I'd be more afraid than ever to utilize these roads.
MadlyMad (Los Angeles)
Sorry to contradict, but being hit by a car and being hit by a aggressive speeding cyclist produces different results. And this doesn't even broach the subject of exhaust fumes and traffic through the park.
eusebio vestias (Portugal)
Hopefully improve conditions in Central Park media of social and environmental sustainability is a toolbox that improves the conditions of the people using the Central Park the gardens are social and environmental and economic key points
Jake (New York)
The comparison between driver-caused injuries and cyclist/pedestrian-caused injuries is a bit misleading, considering that the Park has been closed to car traffic for much of the day for several years.

This lament ends up being a bit silly, considering that anyone with two wheels or two feet and some free time can enjoy the Park's peace at a more suitable pace, more keenly attuned to one's surroundings, than one could ever hope to achieve in a cage behind a roaring engine.

The city doesn't owe anyone who chooses to drive through the densest and most transit-connected city in the U.S. a few miles of uncongested peace. You've been watching too many car commercials, Ms. Nir. And never forget that the frantic, noisy, and smelly hell of our streets - which you're seeking to avoid - is caused by one group of people and one group alone: drivers.
N. Smith (New York City)
Just great!...But there are still other things on wheels that go very fast, and pose an equal safety risk to pedestrians in the park. And the numbers of encounters (and casualties) are mounting.
Scott (Los Angeles)
Yay, good start!

Next eliminate bikes, and/or limit the speed and uphold crosswalk laws and then....

Finally, hopefully, those poor horses! I love telling the fat tourists being pulled by them that to really see the park you need to go where the horses do not (and the horse usually winks at me!)
MadlyMad (Los Angeles)
Thank you, Scott.
gerald42 (White Plains, NY)
Enforcing laws against reckless bicycle riders would be an even greater safety reform than barring cars. Most riders do not recognize red lights facing them. Some do not travel at safe speeds. There is no enforcement!
Lawrence Ulrich (Brooklyn)
Another step in the relentless namby-pambying and Disneyfication of New York. A few more years, and it will be just like Orlando: Another centrally planned suburban utopia, safe for toddlers of all ages. But utterly boring.
mjd (brooklyn)
Huh? There are no sidewalks in Orlando. It's one of the most the most hostile to pedestrian cities I've ever, ahem, stepped foot in.
mjd (brooklyn)
I suggest that the author Indulge her car nostalgia in New Jersey, she'll enjoy more of the windshield wistfulness she seems to crave there. My family and I are very happy that cars are banned from part of the park, and look forward to the day they're banned entirely.
Alex (NY)
Great that cars will be gone on the N-S park roads above 72nd Street, but why not 59th to 72nd? I run the lower loop frequently in the afternoon. The exhaust fumes are unpleasant, and the cars force the cyclists into space competition with runners, which is dangerous. I love to look up and see the horses, though.
jerry (butler)
Over a three year period, there have been 29 reported cases of accidents involving cars and bikes or pedestrians and 377 reported cases of accidents involving bikes and bikes or pedestrians. Well then it seems reasonable to do away with the cars right? Not to mention that there were two people killed by bikes in the park (http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/bicycle-crash-kills-another-pede... just last year. My own doctor was struck and seriously injured by a biker last year. Unleashing all these bikers on the city with no control has been a disaster, people have died. What we need to do is control the bikers in the park not eliminate the cars.
Gary (Brooklyn)
The fact the loop was intended for house draws carriages does not mean it is appropriate for motor vehicles. It is not. The City is overrun with traffic. The Park was intended as pastoral escape from the bustle of the City. Keeping cars out is consistent with that purpose.
AM (Flushing, NY.)
There is a difference between horse drawn carriages moving along at 10-20 miles per hour (the original intended users of the park roads) and modern cars cruising at high speeds on the same winding roads.

I have driven in Prospect Park many times and I drive at the speed limit of 25 mph. Speeding cars routinely tailgate me and then unsatisfied when I don't speed up pass me by veering in to the bike lane at high speed and cruising around me.

The sooner cars are completely eliminated from the park roads the better.
Rich (New York City)
It's ironic for the NYT to call this a "Green" and "bucolic" shortcut, celebrating drivers' ability to enjoy the pastoral nature of the very park they're polluting as they drive their taxis and SUVs through our great park.

Is this how the NYT plans on covering the super-rich by glorifying the transportation methods of those who pollute the park and its jogging / cycling paths?

Studies show that "exercisers should keep their distance from exhaust-spewing cars and check air- quality forecasts before venturing out." (See http://bit.ly/1FEIsuj.)

Claiming that "driving has always been a part of the park" is ludicrous, as Olmstead and Vaux designed the park nearly 1/2 century before the advent of polluting motorized vehicles.

Further, despite what utech writes (the only comment that's currently a NYT Pick), the crosstown traverses are to remain open.

Congrats to Mayor de Blasio and DOT for enacting a sensible plan that will protect one of the few green spaces in Manhattan and the many New Yorkers who enjoy it as a place for exercise and a respite from polluting cars.
tomfromharlem (deposit, ny)
I worry about more traffic on 110, fifth, maidson, park, and CP west...

Has there been a study done? What's the down side? You don't report.

Yes, most accidents are bikes and walkers....so what's the deal? No reason we can't leave cabs the transverse park at certain times. What about even after dark? Or during rush?

And, hey, I'm a liberal conservationist! But, I'm just say'n....
Voteforprogress (America)
Bicyclists are a much greater danger to pedestrians than cars are. I hope the police will start enforcing the rules of the road in the Central Park when it comes to bicycles. Bicyclists (both in Central Park and on the streets) routinely ignore traffic laws, particularly when it comes to red lights. Vision Zero should be broadened to include accidents caused by bicyclists.
Zenster (Manhattan)
I walk my dog in Central Park every day and this is great news, however there is something that needs to be addressed:

All traffic will have to exit at 72nd Street. At this exit there is currently only a small yellow triangle sign with a picture of a pedestrian that can barely be seen and is completely ignored. Anyone crossing the road near the East Green on 72nd Street has to wait for an opening in the traffic and run across the street.
It is a dangerous crossing with only SOME cars exiting the park here. When ALL cars must exit the park here it will be a deadly crossing.

Just take the money from Vision Zero TV PR useless ads and use it to actually DO something.
Rob (Westchester, NY)
A car ride is "pastoral"? Not in any definition that I've seen.
Mitchell (Oakland, CA)
Try Brookville Rd. on Long Island or Skyline Dr. in NJ, or a drive up the Taconic. Put the Grateful Dead "Ripple" on the stereo, or perhaps Vivaldi or Bach. If that's not pastoral enough for you, take your head out of the tailpipe (or drive an electric car)!
AEK in NYC (New York, NY)
"There were 29 injuries to bikers and pedestrians from cars in the park from 2012 to 2014, according to the Department of Transportation. (There were 377 injuries involving bikes and/or pedestrians in the same period.)"

So, people strolling Central Park are more than 10 times more likely to be injured by cyclists than by car drivers. I'm a recreational biker, but on weekends I never bike in Central Park or along the East River/Hudson River bike paths. Those helmeted, Spandex-clad, iPod-plugged, highly-caffeinated would-be Lance Armstrong types would run down their mothers on their way to achieving their goal of "peak performance."
Zach (brooklyn)
Most New Yorkers don't have cars and can't afford taxis. Shortcut for whom?
Julia (NYC)
Cheers to Juna and Amelia. Your headline seems to see it from the drivers' point of view. All they do is add to noise and air pollution. How about seeing it from the park's point of view and the point of view of those of us who will enjoy a quieter, more peaceful and relaxed park?
juna (San Francisco)
Eliminating automobiles from beautiful places makes them much more beautiful.
Matt (Manhattan)
Stop trying to make NYC beautiful...I like it gritty
B. (Brooklyn)
Matt, no doubt being much older than you, I remember New York City before it was "gritty" -- that is, when it was beautiful (and safe).

If you are longing for grit, there are other cities that would fit the bill. But you wouldn't 't really like them, I fear.
Amelia (New York)
As a pedestrian, I applaud this move. But as an occasional driver, I'm glad I got to experience it while I could. In the early mornings years ago, I used to drive from the Cathedral Parkway entrance to Midtown. It was so beautiful it was almost surreal - going from a bucolic forest straight into highrises. Sometimes I would worry I was breaking the law because there were so few other cars - just runners and dog walkers. It felt so private and special - I loved it.
Barry N (NYC)
As a frequent in-line skater, this is good news to me. What would be better would be for the city actually to *pave* the street. Deep ruts and surface irregularities are rampant. The worst of it is the northwestern corner, from about W 109th Street to as far down as the mid W 70s. Cars can drive over these ruts, holes, and disintegrating areas with little difficulty, however for the much smaller wheels of bikes and skates, they are serious hazards. Some of these began forming after the winter of 2014 and have yet to be repaired! (The winter of 2015 did not make them any better.) Normally, I would (and have) report(ed) this to 311, but their forms are only equipped to deal with problems at intersections or on a specific block, not a mile-plus-long stretch of road hazard not immediately noticeable to one driving a car.
Geraldine Bryant (Manhatten)
Download the 311 app. You can report potholes from exactly where they are with the GPS on your phone. Very handy! And they'll get back to you via email.
How about protecting the pedestrians from the cyclists? There has already been one fatality in Central Park from a speeding cyclist. And on the streets there is still nothing being done about cyclists on sidewalks. Dangerous for one and all, especially the elderly.

Out of every eight falls in someone 80 years old or more, one will result in a hip fracture. And of those with hip fractures, approximately 25% will die in one year! And this is preventable.
John Link (New York, NY)
The pedestrians would make the park safer for all if they were to wake up and pay attention to their surroundings as they cross or walk in the roads. So often, when riding my bike in Central Park, I see many pedestrians who walk on or across the roads as if there were no one else present.
Smotri (New York, New York)
So many pedestrians find it easy to exempt themselves from even attempting to look both ways before crossing roads. It's not just cyclists' fault when these accidents occur.
John Link (New York, NY)
Many pedestrians don't look either right or left when crossing. I see that behavior day after day while biking through Manhattan. If it weren't for cyclists and motorists paying attention there would be many more crashes with pedestrians.
PK (Lincoln)
The real question is why cars are allowed in NYC at all? Almost every European city center bans them after 9am and real-estate prices nearly triple when cars are banned.
I would imagine there are people in the auto industry at this very minute sitting in conference rooms pulling out their hair that even 1 square inch of America is off limits to their products.
Your mayor has tweaked the nose of a giant. A true hero.
Mitchell (Oakland, CA)
Contrary to your view, it's not only the auto industry. People -- yes, people! -- choose to drive because they appreciate the experience. Consider what another commentator has written here: "In the early mornings years ago, I used to drive from the Cathedral Parkway entrance to Midtown. It was so beautiful it was almost surreal - going from a bucolic forest straight into highrises."

Those particular park roads were rarely congested -- but some people will pull their hair out as long as one square mile of the earth is open to cars -- despite the fact that there are those who prefer to come and go on their own timetable, and not travel in a "mass." A so-called "traffic calming device" is actually a "driver irritation device." Here's a not-so-trendy reminder: drivers are people, too.
Carl Hultberg (New Hampshire)
In NYC, Park Avenue actually used to be a park.
David (New York City)
The fact is anyone who needs to travel around Manhattan to attend meetings, events, can not reliably take mass transit and you can't take a Citibike in the summer in a suit. This no alternative to taking a car service of some kind. How can you get from say the UN to Chelsea Piers? Buses travel at less than walking speed. The subways are packed, suffer from delays and the platforms are steam baths. The congestion caused by shutting down traffic lanes, has increased pollution and travel times to get anywhere.
D. H. (Philadelpihia, PA)
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR I can hear the howls of outrage all the way down here in Philly from drivers barred from Central Park. I think that they should consider shutting the park to all except electric shuttles. With charging stations near park entrances for rapid charge. Including electric police vehicles would be a good addition. But I'm not sure that bikes that run on electric motors would be especially safe. Mandating those changes, the city would set a good example and keep the park quiet and the air clean.
John Link (New York, NY)
The article would have been more informative if it included a map showing which roads will remain open to cars and which roads will not.
Reader (NY)
I don't know about the loops, but people use the transverses to save money, not for expedience.

I've always been far more concerned about the cyclists. I've had some very close calls.
rogerma (new bedford ma)
In New York, I've experienced more close calls with bicyclists, rather than vehicles. It should be mandated that all bicyclists install a bell or horn to give out a warning to pedestrians and others, would be helpful.
Greg (NYC, ny)
What would help the most is signage to inform pedestrians to look up from their cellphones and pay attention when crossing the roads (in Central Park and in general) - too many people wander across the roads, against the lights or in the middle of nowhere, with clueless abandon - very often texting or chatting away on a cellphone. Incredibly dangerous for them and bikers.
AEK in NYC (New York, NY)
City laws already mandate that every bike have a bell, horn or other warning device. But even if they did install them, those Spandex-clad would-be Lance Armstrong types would never use them. In their minds, THEY rule the road.
gerald42 (White Plains, NY)
How about cyclists stopping at red lights or walking their bikes through red lights? How about speed limits for bikes?
BJ (Bergen County)
This is actually quite funny and sardonic. Anyone who attempts to walk safely through the park certainly knows, it's the spider man costume bicyclists who're by far more dangerous than the moving vehicles.
Roberta (New York, NY)
I agree with the person who said bicyclists are a bigger danger - to pedestrians anyway. they have no interest in or regard for the traffic light at 90th/5th roadway next to the reservoir, and just speed on. it's scary. shouldn't they have to stop at a red light like the cars do? there are people, old people, people with babies and children, and just everybody trying to cross to get to the reservoir side. you have to dodge speeding bikes who totally speed on at their red light. miffed.
David (New York City)
Absolutely the biggest issue in CP are the bikes. I witnessed a bike hit a pedestrian last weekend. There was a group of teenagers crossing the road and they were spread out and I thought to myself this is an accident waiting to happen and sure enough a bike plows into one of the trailing girls. The bicyclist if he had been looking could have easily slowed down and avoided the girl but apparently was oblivious to this large group crossing right in front of him
B. (Brooklyn)
I haven't driven in Prospect Park for years now because I never seem to find the road open and I don't often take the car in that direction anyway. I miss doing so: The park is beautiful, especially in the evening when the sun is setting and the trees cast long shadows.

When I was a child, over half a century ago, my father used to drive on Saturday mornings -- also a pretty time -- along the transverse from our house on the southwest side to Flatbush Avenue in order to take me to the library. We passed the lake, went over a beautiful stone bridge, and wound our way to Grand Army Plaza. In memory, it was always autumn, with leaves in full tilt.

What I really miss are quieter times, not necessarily the drive itself -- when there were fewer cars and fewer bikes; and when, for that matter, you could pedal your bike in either direction (in order, say, to go home from the lake and not have to go all the way around) and speed-demons in tights didn't shout at you that you were going the wrong way.

Given that at this point car emissions are generally zilch, the trouble is that courtesy and common sense in general are sadly lacking nowadays.
PJ Carlino (Jamaica Plain)
Olmsted's design that incorporated carriages was designed to give the lower classes a view of how the elite of New York lived. By witnessing the aristocratic behavior of wealthy New Yorkers, the less fortunate were expected to learn appropriate behavior in the parks and other public institutions.

I'd like to think we've moved beyond the original intent of those carriageways. Preserve the history by keeping the paths but get the cars out of the parks.
Bev (New York)
What about SOUTH of 72nd street? There's a crosstown at 65th. They should close ALL the non-crosstown roads in the Park. What's the deal with the "north of 72nd street"? AND some gazillionaire should construct stables for the carriage horses in the park, along with a grazing area. Near the 79th Street crosstown there is an ideal spot near where the Parks Department buildings are and there is a good space where the horses could go out and graze near there. There could also be some private stables so people could ride in the park as they did when the Claremont stables were extant.
Alex (NY)
Yes, stables for the carriage horses within the park would solve the major problem of getting them to and from work every day through heavy traffic. I believe that the Tavern on the Green, adjacent to the Sheep Meadow, was originally built for sheep. As no one has ever managed to get a decent restaurant going there, and as there is no shortage of fine restaurants nearby, how about housing the carriage horses in the Tavern buildings? It could become a tourist attraction in itself, good for the horses, the local restaurants, and the tourists. There could perhaps still be a small casual outdoor restaurant--the Stables Tavern--where people could watch the horses come and go, especially if a bit of the vast Sheep Meadow could be "rezoned" for horse pasture.
Greg (NYC, ny)
Great idea re: stables and grazing. Would add tremendously to the beauty of the Park and would provide riders once again with horses. (Granted they would be well healed 1%ers hence no support from De Blasio) I remember seeing riders regularly on horseback when I moved to NYC - all but gone with the local stables now. I'm sure there are practical, and political reasons but sad that horseback riding no longer graces our beautiful (Danish) park.
Wondering (New York)
I agree. South of 72nd Street there are a lot of children on their way to the zoos and the carousel.
ronsnyc (NY)
Cars are antithetical to the purpose and beauty of the park. Now let's get them out of the park entirely. To me it's not primarily a matter of safety. It's a matter of ridding the park of unwanted noise and exhaust fumes.
Marchini (Paris)
Now let the City build stables in the northern part of the park for rent to the hansom cabs and get them off the streets and in Central Park only- as envisioned in the 19C. Win-win.
Stig (New York)
Central Park's creators never envisioned high-speed deathcycles mowing down folks faster than they can be scraped up off the pavement. Banning cars will do nothing to stop the carnage wrought upon innocent pedestrians by the park's least welcome visitors.
Might I suggest banning bikes forever and going Draconian on anyone bringing those foul contraptions into the one place in Manhattan that should be both car-free and cycle-free?
RE (New York, NY)
Having grown up Minneapolis with a copious amount of parks and green space, I was obviously excited to be accepted into Columbia University, but a bit terrified the city would be too concrete jungle for me to handle. I ended up living around 110th Street and Frederick Douglass (8th Ave.), the NW corner of central park ,and the park became my haven. And that's what i quickly learned about the city and couldn't imagine settling down anywhere else: there's a part of NYC for everyone.

If all you care about is getting around in taxis as fast as possible then you have plenty of options below 59th, but I recon there are a ton of people like me that need a bit of balance by spending some time away from all that. One of the best things about the hudson river park is that for a good portion of it there's not a car in sight, and it's pretty thrilling this will also be brought to a large portion of central park.
Mitchell (Oakland, CA)
“Outside is for the cars! In there is for the people”?

Who does this guy think is in the cars? Roads are for people to ride on, not just for the ants and (entitled and spandexed) gnats outside.
Dave (NY)
Good, too many cabbies and Uber drivers rushing around in there. It's the most picturesque and serene drive, but that can enjoyed on a bike rather than letting it grow clogged with drivers who pushed the speed limit.
Transparency Matters (ny)
I'd rather they ban trumpets and audible music than modify the traffic patterns of Olmstead and Vaux .
Gabi (Pittsburgh)
I'm fine with them closing that down, but it feels like there should be a better alternative to go cross town, if they are stopping the busses that is. Are they really stopping the busses too? Am I now supposed to take the 4||5||6 to the yellow line to the red line as an alternative? Kind of out of the way.

Not sure how much the 5th avenue extended bus lane will help...
Mark (<br/>)
The crosstown drives and buses are not affected.
Charles Marean, Jr. (San Diego, California, USA)
Good idea. It could even inspire the rest of the city to become more park-like. For example, new buildings could be required to be set back farther from the road to allow more grass, flowers, bushes and trees. City planners could reestablish long-hidden views. Raise the rent in one office building to afford to tear down the one next door, to plant grass and trees. It's like why do thy want bigger football stadiums? Why not smaller with more expensive tickets? Quality not quantity.
harris silver (Los Angeles)
Why did it take so long for NYC politicians to understand that it's named Central Park, not Central Parkway?
harris silver (Los Angeles)
Finally. Now pedestrians, cyclists, skaters and others can use the park safely.
De Blasio's hatred of cars has turned me into a Republican.

How about teaching pedestrians to be careful. How about encouraging personal responsibility - like look before you cross, and don't walk across the street with your face in the cell phone?

I like de Blasio on almost every issue, except on cars.

I will vote against de Blasio and support anyone who runs against him.
Andrew (Harlem)
I don't think there's any evidence that DeBlasio has a "hatred of cars."

DeBlasio has implemented a Vision Zero plan because he believes that nobody should ever be killed by a careless driver. That is a far-too-common occurrence in NYC, and it's simply unacceptable. We must stop the carnage.

Furthermore, cars make the city incredibly unpleasant in so many ways. Is there anyone who enjoys the sound of blaring car horns in the morning? (Or at 3am, for that matter). Who enjoys breathing in exhaust fumes?

Imagine how wonderful our city would be if we cut the number of cars in half. No more car horns, half the pollution, traffic for drivers and bus riders alike flows far faster. If both sides of each street were no longer dedicated to free automobile parking, we could have mini-parks, sidewalk cafes, bike lanes, bus lanes, wider sidewalks -- you name it! Any of those would be better than car storage.
Mike (San Diego)
This is opinion right? The author has certainly chosen to make her disdain for the decision a common theme in the piece. Deriding supporters, trumping up the value drivers (rarely) derive from drives through the park, nonsense statistics meant to support cars. How about the author take the bus and WALK in the park at two miles per hour - that is if you want the "most bucolic" experience outside of a car.
Larry G (NY NY)
As a former cab driver, it is a shame that one of the great NYC escape routes will be no more. If you are a smart driver, you know the best route out of NYC n the evening rush is north through the park. Giving a tourist a ride through the park, exiting at 110th street, north to 112, right turn on 3rd ave and up to the Triboro (RFK) bridge to the airport shows cabbie smarts and beats crosstown on 57th street anytime. As the stats in the article show, if everybody obeys the rules, all have and can get along. A simple pleasure for those who drive 12 hours a day in NYC, shot to hell.
Bradley (New York)
A couple facts.

These roadways are already closed to cars something like 95% of the time already. Traffic is mostly single lane. It goes slow. Cars don't take that road anyway because it's slower than nearby alternatives.

The transverses, the east-to-west roads will obviously stay open as they are jam packed with traffic all day, all night.

Central Park is ridiculously popular with locals and tourists. It's one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world.

The closed roads are part of a 6 mile loop that is always packed, and I mean jam packed, with joggers, cyclists, pedestrians, roller bladers, skateboarders, baby strollers, horse & carriages, and every other kind of wheeled gizmo you can imagine. There are massive cancer type walks for every cause imaginable, every weekend. It just doesn't make sense to add cars to the mix.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg for things to do in the park given there are full blown concerts, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, a Shakespeare theater, restaurants, world-class museums (The Met, American Museum of Natural History), a reservoir with a 1.5 mile running loop, a lake with row boats, a reflecting pond with electric sailboats, a castle, large fields for doing everything, croquet fields, two ice skating rinks, a huge pool, there's a carnival with rides in the summer, a chess & checkers pavilion, a dairy, beautiful Elm-canopy pathways, and street performers everywhere. Each of these things draws big crowds.
Michael (New York, NY)
None sense another example of de Blasio pandering to the anti car lobby. If Central Park is closed to cars, then the city streets should be reserve for car traffic and not be closed for bike lanes. What makes the park unsafe are the cyclist that pay not attention to pedestrians and the pedestrians that pay no attentions to cars because they are oblivious of their surroundings because of their iPhones.
Dan (Brooklyn)
I love that in the comments here people are variously opposed to or in agreement with this decision, but all find it equally obvious that their view is correct. New Yorkers: impossible to please.
c. (n.y.c.)
Cut off all the transverses while you're at it! We don't need any cars pouring smog and noise into the Park, obstructing walkways, and most importantly murdering our planet.

A reasonable suggestion: reallocate funds from the Second Ave Subway for the Rich to a series of crosstown lines that run from 11th to Lex.
Chicken Underwear (Brooklyn)
I wonder how hard this report I had a look to find people who enjoy the parks in their cars. And by the way I'm the guy who started that petition. You're welcome.
harris silver (Los Angeles)
It's about time.
Perfect Gentleman (New York)
The legacy of Bloomberg's war on cars continues
Thomas David (Paris)
Great idea to cut down on traffic in the park. Thanks Mr. Mayor ...To add to this brilliant idea make it illegal to sit in a car with engine idling and the air conditioning running. There's a wealth of fines in this for the city, it's ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY, and the Pope would agree.
Carl Hultberg (New Hampshire)
When a few of us started Auto Free New York back in 1989, shutting the Central Park Loop Drive to motor vehicle traffic was our first demand.

The power of suggestion is powerful (but slow).

Visit http://www.auto-free.org/ for the whole story.
Lloyd Z (Manhattan)
The squeaky wheels get the oil. In this case, the squeaky wheel is Transportation Alternatives and other strong advocates for removing all cars from Central Park. But it is so hypocritical to say this makes the parks "safer." DeBlasio is simply pandering. Just look at the number of injuries from cars compared to those from bicycles. So many more people are injured by cyclists who have no speed limit and who can't be heard coming. As Mr. Heckscher says, Olmsted and Vaux always intended for drivers to use the meandering roads through the Park. And how about the awful trucks who drop off all the ugly food carts every day. The Central Park Conservancy has done a magnificent job restoring Central Park, but cars using the roads are just not the problem that the anti-car advocates make it out to be. Irresponsible pedestrians, cyclists, drivers - all make things less safe and more dangerous. But responsible and law-abiding versions of the same keep the Park functioning safely for all who use it.
Lynn (New York)
You cite the high number of injuries from bicycles.

As a cautious bicyclist who was nearly knocked off my bike by a speeding bike from the rear, I do note a few who belong in a velodrome, not the park,

But a much bigger part of the problem is that pedestrians and cyclists are squeezed into a narrow space because of the cars zipping by beside them.
Thus injuries caused by cyclists should decrease when the cars are gone.

Unfortunately, the most dangerous area and narrowest squeeze is below 72 nd street on the east side, where cars will continue to be allowed.
Red Lion (Europe)
Pedestrians who use bicycle lanes as walking and jogging paths are at least as much of a danger to themselves and others as cyclists.

Cyclists who do not obey the laws should face legal consequences, as should pedestrians who decide that bike paths are their personal sidewalks.
Bev (New York)
Olmstead and Vaux I think were not thinking of cars...but of carriages
Ruben Kincaid (Brooklyn)
The bicyclists in Central Park are more dangerous than the cars.
David Lazar (Edinburgh)
Mixing cycles and pedestrians can be dangerous, but it is still less dangerous than mixing cycles with cars. Just think how much more serious usually car-bike crashes are compared to bike-pedestrian crashes.

Al in all I think cycles improve cities and cars are very much a relic of the past, especially in city centers with slow moving traffic.
Blue (Not very blue)
Before condemning all cyclists, try riding in the park for a couple of weeks. You will find that there are many cyclists who are quite responsible and you will also find that the set up now makes cycling difficult especially if going for any sort of cardio exercise. Runners feel entitled to run in lanes designated for bikes. There are several places with heavy pedestrian crossing who do not follow traffic lights and others that are on hills asking cycists to have to slow down going uphill. Pedestrian underpasses would go far to relieve these pressures. Where the lanes narrow at the bottom east corner is a particularly dangerous place for runners and cyclists that need not be. The upper west corner of the lower loop can also be very dangerous. Taxis and SUV's are very aggressive about taking up lanes and cutting off cyclists who have the same right of way as they do. Sure some cyclists are too aggressive, but before painting all cyclists with the same brush, take a ride in their shoes.
alex (brooklyn)
I would like to see the statistics. I wouldn't be surprised if bikes caused more accidents than cars in the park.
utech (manhattan, ny)
The over and underpasses provide seamless travel for autos traversing between the east and west side without putting pedestrians at risk.

I don't use me car very often and generally cross Central Park on my bike, and I think this is a really stupid idea. Whether it's setting light patterns on the West Side Highway that stop cars every 5 blocks above 14th Street, thus spewing exhaust while idling ( which was not the case 15 years ago ), this will only result in increasing greenhouse gas and drivers frustration. When drivers are frustrated they challenge yellow to red making the streets less safe for pedestrians and bikers.

If NYC is serious about too many cars on Manhattan, then we would create zones of travel like London to reduce non-commercial traffic. Unfortunately our streets are regulated by the state, so NYC is stuck making life miserable for it's residents so those who don't live here can drive into Manhattan and suck up the cost of parking based on a cost benefit ratio. This plan also punishes livery drivers and other commercial vehicles.

I do hope, and it's not a topic raised in this report, that the roads continue to be open for buses and emergency vehicles, and if that is allowable, then we keep the crosstown routes open to all vehicle traffic.
Yes, I wanted to ask that question as well, utech--What is the plan if someone is attacked, has a medical emergency, or finds themselves otherwise in need of fast help? Will ambulances/police, etc. be able to drive into the park?
Maani (New York, NY)
This is long overdue. In fact, cars should never have been allowed in a park to begin with, so one can only hope that, after a while - as it is shown that closing the "upper drive" will NOT create any more traffic mayhem around the park then already exists - the "lower drive" will also be closed, and the park will be returned solely to the uses for which a park is created.
purloined petrichor (NY)
Anyone who uses the park as a park - walking, running, biking, reading, sun-bathing, playing, dog-wrangling, picnicking - celebrates this.

There are plenty of places for cars. This is a place for no cars. The notion that driving has "always been a part of the park" is rich: it's the difference between a horse-drawn carriages, in a city with a population of half a million, and Chevy Suburbans tearing through the streets among a city of 8.5 million.

The question is: when will the park below 72nd be free of cars too?
boourns (nyc)
These were relatively low-trafficked streets. Most cabbies didn't even know to use them and they're really only good if you live right off the transverse roads. Amsterdam and Madison are still the key Uptown arterials. This won't create any traffic chaos.
troublemaker (new york, ny usa)
Thank you, Mayor DeBlasio. Please repaint the lanes and put more signage so that non-motorists stay in their designated lanes. Pay attention, peopke!
fritz (nyc)
Another piece of New York vanishes. The bridle paths gone long ago but to a native of this city the changes are heartfelt.

29 vehicular accidents vs. 377 bike/people collisions in the Park says something...
BrandonM (nyc)
I run or walk on the bridal path around the (former) reservoir nearly every day. As a matter of fact the next thing that needs to be done is enforcement of the rules that already exist for bikes, strollers, wheeled luggage etc...around the bridal path and running track. A week of handing out tickets would restore a healthy equilibrium where (nonautomotive) things with wheels were ushered to the pavement just vacated by the cars...and runners could actually return to the running paths.
Peter Kaufman (Brooklyn, NY)
>29 vehicular accidents vs. 377 bike/people collisions in the Park says >something..

That you use the term "vehicular accident" when it comes to cars, but "collision', when it come to bikes/people, says something, too.
Kevin (Austin)
Vehicular accidents tend to be a lot more fatal than bicycle accidents, so mere statistics tell us little.
Lenore (Manhattan)
Finally, runners and walkers will have more room for their activities. I also look forward to clearer separations between them and the cyclists, which often threaten their safety.
Kelly (New York, NY)
A clearer separation? There's a lane that is painted with a cyclist and lane painted with a runner. Nobody pays either of them any mind.
Keith (NYC)
I have been riding my bike in the park for 30 years. The pedestrian problem has gotten worse. To keep saying cyclists are at fault is nonsense. Pedestrians do not look when they enter the crosswalks. Pedestrians cross at will everywhere, and anywhere they choose. Cell phones have made the problems even worse. Just because you walk and talk on a cell phone does not magically put you in some kind of protective bubble immune from cars, bicycles, and your surroundings..
lksf (lksf)
Why was this done? Were birders and bikers been mowed down by the dozen?

I'm willing to bet that the law of unintended consequences will apply here as well, it tends to when something is fixed that wasn't broke. Extra congestion and traffic stalls on the streets around the park (how good is that for pollution?), extra expensive rides from one side of manhattan to the other, and oh ya, does no one realize how the traffic, the steady presence of people and lights, made those areas safer?
Ed B. (NYC)
(1) Rides from one side of Manhattan to the other won't be impacted, as the transverse roads will remain open at all times.
(2) The safety from the "steady presence of people and lights" has little to do with car traffic, which was restricted to rush hours.
(3) The doomsday predictions that accompanied the closing of sections of Broadway in the Times Square area to automobile traffic a few years ago have yet to come to pass.

There are two empirical rules to NYC automobile traffic: the easier you make it to drive in Manhattan, the more cars there will be; the more difficult you make it to drive in Manhattan, the fewer cars there will be.
David (New York City)
Ed B - that's great except mass transit is a joke and the only practical way to get around NYC is a taxi for those who work in Manhattan and have business to take care of
Beth (New York City)
So excited for all of the extra cars to be jamming cross town for rush hour.
Chicken Underwear (Brooklyn)
I don't think those extra cars are going to amount to much. They would if traffic was removed from the southern end of the park and that's why that was not done
JS (Okla)
Anyone who regularly bikes, jogs, walks, skates or strolls on the Park's 6.2 mi. loop can attest to the fact that vastly fewer cars use the portion of the loop above 72nd Street. Ed B. is right on target, and anyone with empirical knowledge of Central Park's main "paved path" would be able to confirm same.

This long-overdue closure to vehicular traffic should be commended. The very notion that 'cars have rights too' in an urban park smacks of the absurd. Mass transit exists and its usage ought to be encouraged. This measure is another small step in that direction, but also one that has brings much peace to those who use Central Park regularly for recreation and exercise. It is nigh impossible to allow one's thoughts to wander (aka relax) while cars and large SUVs zip by less than a foot away (and much closer in some unfortunate instances). There is nothing park-like about such experiences.
Lynn (New York)
Maybe they'll decide to stay in New Jersey and Queens