Act Now to Pass the Car-Free Parks Bill

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Anonymous's picture

"From Transportation Alternatives:

Act Now to Pass the Car-Free Parks Bill

After 40 years of advocacy, the loops of both Central Park and Prospect Park may finally return to their original, pristine and intended state, at least dur! ing the summer months.

On May 9th at 10am, the City Council Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Intro. 276, a landmark piece of legislation that--in response to 100,000 petition signatures and the record level of recreational demand for both parks--would close the loops to vehicular traffic* and return them to the exclusive domain of recreating New Yorkers from! June 24th through September 25th.

This bill is the direct result of tireless advocacy, the backing of progressive elected officials, your support and the hard work of countless volunteers and believers.

To get this bill passed we need City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn on our side.

How much time do you have to help make history?

10 Minutes: Send a personal letter to Speaker Quinn encouraging her to support Intro. 276. We have provided a sample for you below or you can download a template here.

5 Minutes: Using the sample letter below as your guide, call Speaker Quinn at (212) 788-7210. Be polite, say ""thank you"" and mention that you will ""be calling back early next week"" (and please do in fact call again early next week).

Also, write or call your Councilmember and let them know that you support Intro. 276, encourage them to do the same, and follow up your phone call with more calls. You can look up your City Councilmember's contact info here.

The hearing is at City Hall in the Committee Room on Tuesday, May 9th at 10 am. If you want to attend and/or submit testimony, please be sure to come early as all entrants will be screened for security.

For more information on the legislation, the hearing or other car-free parks issues email [email protected].

* Prospect Park's loop would remain open to cars on weekdays from 7-9 am


Sample letter to Speaker Quinn:

Hon. Christine C. Quinn
Speaker of the New York City Council
City Hall
New York, New York 10007

Madam Speaker,

I sincerely hope that you will support Intro. 276, the legislation that would grant car-free summers in Central Park and car-free summer evenings in Prospect Park.

A car-free summer is important to me, but this issue is also supported by more than 100,000 individual New Yorkers. There are also dozens of New York City's most prestigious health, environmental, civic and transportation groups that now support a three-month summer closure of the loop drives in the two crown jewel parks of Brooklyn and Manhattan. These groups include Transportation Alternatives, the American Lung Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the New York League of Conservation Voters, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, the Regional Plan Association and West Harlem Environmental Action.

Intro. 276 is a simple, low-cost, commonsense way to improve the health, safety and quality of life of millions of New Yorkers. The potential benefits of car-free summers in Central Park and Prospect Park are innumerable while the risks of instituting the program are minimal and, at most, temporary.

The bill requires the City to conduct a study of the 2006 car-free summer program's effects on ""motor vehicle traffic volume, disruptions of pedestrian traffic flow [as well as] environmental factors."" If unanticipated problems result from the adoption of Intro. 276, they can be corrected for future car-free summers or, should no other options exist, the program can be repealed entirely.

On October 4, 2003, the late Jane Jacobs, in one of her last interviews, came out in favor of a car-free summer in Central Park and a studied trial to achieve"

Anonymous's picture
Karol (not verified)
link to councilmember contact info

type in your address and borough and you get your councilmember's contact info.

i know some people feel that a car-free park would lead to a huge volume of roller bladers, walkers, joggers, strollers, but the park is already car-free between 10 am and 2 pm and the volume of pedestrian/blading traffic is really light, even on beautiful spring days. it's nothing like evenings or weekends when the majority of people are off from work. all it would do is extend the car-free time all day, filling in the gap from 7am till 10 am and 2 pm and 7 pm. This allows more options for those who can use the park during the day.

I doubt the volume would increase during those non-business-day hours. it would just mean that i don't have to wait till ten, or make sure to finish by 2 if i want to avoid the rush of taxis that flood the park during the morning and evening rush. i'm having troule understanding how a cyclist would prefer taxis over pedestrians. why not ride in midtown then?


Anonymous's picture
Tom Laskey (not verified)
Thank You Karol

For making that point. I ride in the park at least one day a week between 12:00pm and 2:00pm. During that time the park is open to cars below 72nd and closed to cars above 72nd. I find riding in the closed to cars section way, way, way more manageable and enjoyable than riding in the lower loop during those hours. In addition to the cars in the lower loop there are also many more bladers, strollers, walkers, joggers than the upper loop so having cars in that section does little to cut down the pedestrian traffic.

Another example is early mornings. The park used to be open to cars at 6:00am, now cars are not allowed until 7:00am. I haven't noticed a huge influx of pedestrians during that hour and I much prefer riding before 7:00 than after 7:00.

Finally, I would much rather ride after 7:00pm when there is probably the highest weekday volume of bladers, walkers, etc. than between 5:00 and 7:00 when the cars make me crazy and even a small amount of traffic in the rec lane can cause serious bottlenecks or worse.

There is the issue of the road surface which I'm sure would suffer in a no car park. Hey, one thing at a time. The surface ain't great now with cars.

Anonymous's picture
Steve (not verified)

I wonder if they would at least compromise and keep the Park car free until 8 am.

cycling trips