Central Park Speed Control

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Anonymous's picture

I was pulled over today in CP around 11:00 am for ""speeding"". I was reminded that the speed limit for bicycles is 15 mph, though the Park's employee did not (have the authority to?) give me a citation. I was going about 21 heading down the roller before the Boathouse. Earlier I stopped for what seemed to be a school crossing, only to be handed a pamphlet about ""sharing the drive in Central Park,"" and told that there is a speed limit (though the lady did not say it's 15 mph). Now, aside from the fact that I normally don't do less than 15 unless it's Harlem Hill, and granted that it makes little sense to zoom at 22-30 mph when there's a lot of pedestrian traffic in the park, this seems a little draconian. As a relative newcomer to riding in CP, is this a new issue? For how long has the speed limit been set for bicyclists? For cars (""moving vehicles"" - aren't we also ""moving""?) it's 25 mph.

Anonymous's picture
bill vojtech (not verified)

Cyclists are deemed incompetent to go faster than 15mph by the powers that be. It's difficult to have one speed limit when pedestrians are abundant and another when they're not. They never expect people, (especially those daft enough to ride a bike), to exercise good judgment– hence the lowest common denominator: any non-comatose cyclist is automatically in violation.

Guilty! Off with their heads!

Anonymous's picture
Rob M (not verified)
I usually dont...

... take sides with the parks dept. but this time I will. If a cyclist is riding in the bike lane, and its crowded/even busy a 15 mph speed limit is reasonable. Cars are not allowed to travel in the rec. lane hence they can travel faster.

As an aside, I was pulled over by the parks dept in riverside park where the bike path goes under the west side hwy (near the trump monstrosity). They were cruising in their 4WD, crawling along at 2 mph and blocking the entire track. It was 7am on a Sunday so I went on to the footpath (past the no riding sign) they saw me, put their lights on and sped round to stop me. As it turns out I did my foreigner/new to town routine and got off with a warning but they went out of their way to get me. They actually drove slowly to make me stop or pass them illegally.

Lastly, does anyone else think they need to carry firearms? Rabid Squirrels?
Oh no wait, its a constitutional obligation.

Anonymous's picture
mike pidel (not verified)

">>""Lastly, does anyone else think they need to carry firearms? Rabid Squirrels?
Oh no wait, its a constitutional obligation.""<<<
you know i had a talk with the new captain of the manhattan parks this week, during the conversation the subject of NYC parks police firearms came up i, too thought i saw the park enforcement officers in Washington square parks having handguns.
he said call 911 immediately if you see a NYC parks enforcement with a firearm.


Anonymous's picture
DvB (not verified)
Sigh . . .

"Ever wonder what happened to the creeps who volunteered for hall-monitor duty in middle-school? They became city employees who cite cyclists for speeding, that's what. (They also became referees/umpires in little league sports, but that's a topic for another post.)

Sure, if you're riding in the cyclists/runners/bladers/clueless-parents-with-strollers lane, then yes, the 15mph limit is reasonable. But if you're riding in the main traffic lanes (which I'm sure you were, Jonathan), then the limit is supposed to be the same as that for cars. All I ever hear about is how cyclists riding on the streets are subject to the same set of laws as cars. Fine. Then I'll be speeding when I exceed 25 in the Park -- not when I exceed 15. This is what I'll tell the judge, anyway, when I'm hauled in front of him by some disgruntled city employee who doesn't ""appreciate"" my attitude.

One cool speeding-related anecdote: I was on a group ride recently, and I came upon one of those speed limit signs that has the radar built into it -- the ones that flash your calculated speed in orange numbers, and say ""your speed."" The limit was 30, and ""my speed"" was 36. Sweet. My ideal scenario is to get stopped for speeding and get a written warning (no points, no fine, and a great memento to hang on the wall).


Anonymous's picture
Hector (not verified)

I was in the park this morning and saw the monitors on both the east side and west side. I was stopped on the west side and given a pamphlet. The monitors were very nice and we even joked around. They are just doing their job and are watching out for the safety of those in the park so it's tough to criticize them. I don't agree with the 15 mph speed limit when the park is closed to cars but I do agree with it when we are sharing the park with cars and have to ride in the bike/running lane.

Anonymous's picture
Jonathan Shannon (not verified)
Nice monitors, but ...

"the question remains about the logic of the speed limit and it's legality. The woman who gave me the pamphlet was nice enough, as was the guy in the cart that stopped me. And it was a no car time, I was in the road not the rec lanes, and though not going as fast as Doug (!) certainly in and around the ""motor vehicle"" speed limit. It's a good point: if we are held to those laws on the roads, why not in the park roads? In the end it is getting difficult to average 15 anyway with all the school groups(including my own youngster) and joggers. Which is great - it's a great park and we all need to use it safely. But until there's a CP velodrome I am wondering how to manage when the coast is clear and I want to go over 15 (like almost all the time). Thanks, jhs"

Anonymous's picture
Rich (not verified)

"I'm glad to hear that some motorist have been given speeding tix in CP recently. The past several times I've ridden in the CP during ""free car"" hours, lots of motorists were speeding like they were on I-80 going through Wyoming. And although I'm normally pretty comfortable riding in traffic, the high speeds, curves, close proxity,and sound of rapidly accelerating engines made me feel like I was riding on an interstate."

Anonymous's picture
somebody (not verified)

"Central Park rules are that cyclist can't go faster than 15mph, at any time in the park:

Central Park Bicycle Riding Webpage
""Cyclists are required to obey all traffic laws, such as traffic signals, stop signs, and a 15 mph speed limit.""

This has, of course, never really been enforced, and common sense has prevailed.

One of the worst (and silliest) things that could happen to NYC cycling is that it be enforced.

Every year we hear stories like this (of silly enforcement) around spring..."

Anonymous's picture
somebody (not verified)

btw, as a side note, this is also one good reason why we don't want cars in the park.

In a car-free park these issues quickly become irrelevant. There would really be no need for traffic lights, speed limits or stop signs.

Anonymous's picture
Rob M (not verified)
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

This really annoys me. A car free park would be bad for the following reasons:

1)Pedestrians/dogs/roller bladers you name it would be all over the road. Look before crossing? are you joking.

2)You think the pot holes will ever get filled?

Now if your talking about a CP that bans every one except cyclists who can average 20 min laps, and which repaves the entire loop with F1 standard black top each year you got my vote.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Yeah, right, like I could keep silent on this thread.

Here I go again, thumping the same, ol' drum, singing the same, ol' song, playing the same note....

Did you vote for Betsy Gotbaum for Public Advocate? She was the one who imposed the 15MPH speed limit when she was Parks Commissioner.

The NYCC joined TA as a co-complainant in a law suit against the city for this. The core of the argument was procedural, i.e. that the Parks Dept. violated the requirements for instituting the speed limit in that they didn't conduct a study or hold publicized hearings.

We lost.

And how did Gotbaum arrive at 15MPH if she didn't conduct a study. She was driven around the park once and decided 15MPH was a good number.

Q: Have you ever once seen a driver ticketed for speeding in the park? I haven't.

Q: Have you ever once seen a driver ticketed for being in the park when it is closed to cars? I haven't.

True story; true dialogue.

Driver is in park when it is closed to traffic. He is waiting at a red light at the Engineer's Gate (Fifth and 90th). Scooter cop is stationary right next to him. Light changes, driver exits park.

I come upon police officer:

Me: The park is closed to drivers. Why didn't you ticket him?

Police Officer: Aw, he knew what he was doing was wrong.

There you have it: if you're ever apprehended doing a bank job or a contract hit, just explain to the police officer you know what you're doing is wrong. He'll let you go.

Question #2: Why do you suppose police officers and other authorities stop cyclists but not drivers?

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
Frequently, weekdays 10-3, cars are stopped by police in CP

and I have actually seen tickets presented to the drivers several times, particularly in recent weeks.

Anonymous's picture
Rob M (not verified)
In all fairness...

... I have also seen cars getting tickets. Not often, but I have seen the police stopping cars.

Anonymous's picture
Jonathan Shannon (not verified)
Cars in the Park

"I see police vehicles hiding out all over the place (Compost Hill, the turn off before the HH descent, here and there) and I have seen a few cars pulled over between 6-7 am and after 10 am, etc. But I have seem WAY more cars cruising around during ""car free"" hours in the northern parts and west side (not the lower loop, which remains open). Some are marked as city vehicles but the majorty don't seem to be, in my experience.

I did not vote for Betsy. I was lookingto pull the lever for the candidate that would fill all pot holes, ban cars, and post more signs about sharing the road so that all of us can responsible use the parks. That person wasn't on the ticket, though...."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Actually, Jon, Betsy's opponent represents cyclists in court. nm
Anonymous's picture
HSB (not verified)
traffic light rules in the park

i was out in the park this morning around 8/9am and saw lots of police stopping cars. i was coming down the hill on the west side before the 72nd street transverse and the traffic light was green. i was going about 23 and went through the light but pedestrians were trying to cross at the same time (they did not have a walk sign). i got stopped by the police officer and given a warning that i have to yield for pedestrians. my question is, do i still have to yield to them even if i have a green light??

Anonymous's picture
Rob M (not verified)
No I don't think so...

When there is no traffic control signal, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in the crosswalk. (Sec. 1151).

If there is no crosswalk, a pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway (Sec. 1152).

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
Yes, you have to yield to pedestrians.

"There is a crosswalk at 72nd, so even if they are crossing against the light, vehicles have to yield pursuant to traffic law. In addition, here are the actual CP rules applying to cyclists and pedestrians:

""Pedestrians have the right of way at all times. At crosswalks, cyclists must slow down, yield, and then proceed cautiously."""

Anonymous's picture
Matt P. (not verified)

Word. It's a park, not a crit course. Speeding cars are bad enough. Don't add to the problem by playing Floyd Landis on Cat's Paw. This kind of discussion comes up every spring when the park gets crowded.

If you want to train hard/go fast, either a) hit the park very early (5:30 a.m.), hit it late (after 8 p.m.) or stick to the terrain on the far north end of the park (Harlem Hill and the westside rollers).

Anonymous's picture
Steve (not verified)

As far as I am concerned any time before 7 am is play time for cyclists. The stroller set can have the park the rest of the day.

Anonymous's picture
kley (not verified)
prospect park is looking better and better for those of us…

who don't live on the uws.

Anonymous's picture
E. Novélo (not verified)
Yield for pedestrians?

Pedestrians legally have the right away.

Will someone sue? A cyclist has been ticketed for whatever and has assets. Hum... Getting this type of information has become too easy.

Liability insurance is a cheap add-on to homeowner's insurance. If there is an incident it's handled by a insurance company. The alternative - $200+ an hour lawyer fees.

BTW, this is not fictional. It happened to a medical professional...

Anonymous's picture
george (not verified)

So its ok for cyclists to disregard the speed limit, and also ok for us to claim that motorists are idiots when they do the same? Does this strike anyone as something of a double standard?

Just because motorists don't obey the speed limit doesn't give us licence to ignore it as well. Its bloody annoying, granted, but them's the rules. Feel free to go faster, but don't act wounded when you get busted by the law.

Anonymous's picture
bill vojtech (not verified)

I think the objection is that while we're required to obey all the laws that apply to motor vehicles, we're stuck with a lower speed limit– and that limit seems to have been arbitrarily set.

On top of that, the cars regularly exceed the limit, with no penalty.

Anonymous's picture
Niko (not verified)
I know of no other place in the US

I know of no other place in the US where cars are routinely allowed to do double or triple the posted speed limit on a regular basis. In 20 years of riding in CP i have never seen a speeding ticket given (although as others have pointed out I have been seeing some cars stopped recently for being in the park :))

The speed limit is 25 mph or less in CP. We all know cars do 40-65mph all day every day. That is just plain mad. This point alone is enought make me laugh at their safety improvement attempts. I remember a while ago someone posted an exchange with a level headed cop who said it would endanger more people if they pursued speeders. That may be true but then the NYPD should problem solve that and not just let Cars do 50 even if they are in their designated lanes.

End rant. BTW, thanks for that piece about Betsy Gottbaum - I'll be sure to tell her what a great job she is doing next time I see her in front of Zabars. Maybe I'll throw some goose liver pate on her or something...

Anonymous's picture
E. Novélo (not verified)
NYPD assigned a motorcycle patrol to Central Park

A motorcycle cop was ticketing cars last Monday night in the park. On Tuesday morning they created a 1 hour backup by issuing citations for not wearing seat belts.

The pamphlets may only be a pre-game show. If it wasn’t for the cost of a violation the following ***future*** story would be a classic

“NYCC member caught by a radar trap in Central Park. The cyclist was chased by New York’s Finest motorcycle division and given a speeding violation”.

Can a radar detector work on AAA DURACELLs?

cycling trips