Central Park is officially car-free!

Posted On Wed, June 27, 2018 By

Posted On Wed, June 27, 2018 By In Transportation

Executive director of Transportation Alternatives Paul Steely White drives a vintage Mustang as the last car in Central Park. Via NYC Parks.

At 7pm last night, the last car to ever drive through Central Park marked all of the park’s loop drives being permanently closed to traffic. Mayor de Blasio first made the announcement in April that after banning cars north of 72nd Street three years ago, the city would now prohibit them south of 72nd. Although vehicles will still be able to travel along the transverses, the new policy frees up a significant amount of space for pedestrians, runners, and bikers. To that end, Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit advocacy group that has been pushing for the car ban since the ’70s, teamed up with city officials last night to host a celebratory bike ride that trailed the last car to drive through the park.

Paul Steely White said in a statement, “Our city is full of cars. They clog up the streets, they line practically every block. Central Park was meant to be a different kind of place—a place for people. We’ve worked for years gathering signatures, holding rallies and winning supporters, never knowing for sure if this day would ever come, so we’re elated to usher in a new car-free era for Central Park.”

Via NYC Parks

Similarly, in a previous press release, Mayor de Blasio said, “More than 42 million visitors flock to Central Park each year. Returning the park’s loop road to walkers, joggers and cyclists will reduce air pollution in the park and improve safety. It also signals New York City’s commitment to prioritizing people over cars in its premier public spaces.”

The city chose the date of June 27th because it’s the day after public schools wrapped up and the first day outdoor pools are open across the city. The change won’t affect the major crosstown Central Park transverse roads at 97th, 86th, 79th and 65th Streets, which will remain open to motor vehicles. After a successful pilot program last January, the city also made Prospect Park car-free.

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