FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES MORE CAR-FREE HOURS IN CENTRAL AND PROSPECT PARKS
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall today announced the launch of a six-month pilot traffic plan that would expand the number of hours that New Yorkers could enjoy both Prospect Park and Central Park free of vehicular traffic. As of Monday June 5, 2006, vehicles will no longer be allowed to use Central Park’s East Drive north of 72nd Street in the morning or the West Drive in the afternoon, or Prospect Park’s West Drive in the morning. These reductions will minimize potential conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles in the park, and make available additional space for non-vehicular uses. The new closures will remain in effect through mid-November 2006 when the Department of Transportation will conduct an analysis of the closure impacts to determine whether they should be made permanent. Joining the Mayor at today’s announcement was Council Member Gale Brewer.
“With summer quickly approaching, more New Yorkers are heading to our City parks for fun and recreation,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Expanding the number of hours that our City residents can enjoy both Central and Prospect Park free of vehicular traffic will help keep park-goers safe. We work hard to keep our parks clean and even harder to keep park-goers safe, and these new rules will ensure that we accomplish just that.”
“Thanks to a partnership between the City and the Central Park Conservancy and Prospect Park Alliance, these two parks have improved tremendously over the last 25 years, and Park visitation is up dramatically. These new traffic hours will improve quality of life and safety for all park visitors,” said Commissioner Benepe.
“People come to New York City’s parks to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life,” said Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall. “We’re excited to be able to provide New Yorkers with more car-free hours in Central and Prospect Parks.”
“I am delighted that New Yorkers will be able to enjoy healthier, cleaner and safer Prospect and Central Parks this summer,” said Council member Brewer. “Fewer cars is another step toward improving our quality of life, and I thank the Mayor for this initiative.”
In Central Park, the West Drive runs between the Lenox Avenue entrance at 110th Street and the Central Park South exit at 59th street and Seventh Avenue. Central Park’s East Drive runs in two main parts: from the Lenox Avenue entrance at 110th Street to 72nd Street and from 72nd Street to the Central Park South exit at 59th street and Fifth Avenue. In Prospect Park, the East Drive runs from Park Circle to Grand Army Plaza on the east side of the Park, and the West Drive runs between the same locations on the West side of the Park.
Currently, vehicular traffic is allowed on both the East and West drives of Central Park between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Vehicular traffic is also allowed on the East and West drives of Prospect Park between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., and 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Under the new traffic plan, only Central Park’s West Drive will be open to motor vehicles only from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., while Central Park’s East Drive north of 72nd Street will be open only from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The East Drive from 57th Street and Sixth Avenue to 72nd Street will continue to be open from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Both parks will continue to be closed to motor vehicles overnight and during weekends. The speed limits at both parks will remain 25 mph. The HOV restrictions for Central Park’s West Drive, in effect since November 29, 2004, will remain in place, and NYPD and Parks will continue to vigorously enforce all rules and regulations.
This new pilot traffic plan builds on the Bloomberg Administration’s efforts over the years to reduce auto traffic in these two great parks and make them safer. In Central Park, for over the past two years, the City established HOV requirements on the West Drive, closed five park drive entrances and exits, lowered the speed limit on the drives and, since January 2005, closed the park drives to cars from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. In Prospect Park, over the past three years we also have extended car-free hours, restricting auto traffic in the park to only the weekday rush hours. The new traffic regulations announced today build on these achievements.
Stu Loeser/Silvia Alvarez (212) 788-2958
Warner Johnston (Parks & Recreation)
Kay Sarlin (Department of Transportation)
Watch the video in 56k or 300k