Resolution In Support of a Motor Vehicle Free Central Park June 2011
WHEREAS, Central Park was designed as a refuge within the city; its loop drive was intended for uses that integrate seamlessly into the pastoral ambiance of the park (by contrast, the East-West transverses, located several feet below grade, were designed to accommodate vehicular traffic with minimum impact on park users); and
WHEREAS, Private motor vehicles on the loop drive impede the healthy environment, peaceful enjoyment, and use patterns of pedestrians, runners, cyclists, carriages, and pedicabs; and
WHEREAS, The presence of private motor vehicles necessitates traffic management tools that do not necessarily provide for safe, shared use of the loop drive by pedestrians, cyclists, runners, carriages, and pedicabs; and
WHEREAS, Recent measures that restrict the use of private motor vehicles on the loop drive have not resulted in noticeable negative impacts on surrounding streets; and
WHEREAS, Private motor vehicles are still permitted on the loop drive during weekday periods when, outside of weekends, visitors and local residents most use the park (early mornings and early evenings, before and after business hours); and
WHEREAS, More than 100,000 people have signed petitions asking for a car-free Central Park; and
WHEREAS, Serious consideration of any proposal to prohibit private motor vehicle traffic warrants an objective study of duration sufficient to observe adaptive shifts in traffic behavior and their impacts during both low- and high-volume periods of traffic; and
WHEREAS, It is possible that traffic directed from the loop roadway in Central Park will use adjacent thoroughfares (eg, Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, 59th Street, etc.); therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the New York City Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Department of Parks and Recreation, prohibit on a trial basis the use of private motor vehicles on the loop drive of Central Park (including taxis, but excepting vehicles necessary for park maintenance, concessions, and emergencies) in order to allow for car-free enjoyment of the park during the summer months through Labor Day 2011; and be it further
RESOLVED, That while the loop drive of Central Park is free of private motor vehicles, the New York City Department of Transportation perform a controlled traffic study and, if necessary, extend the prohibition beyond Labor Day 2011 for a length of time sufficient to accurately measure and assess the potential impact of permanent prohibition of private motor vehicles on the loop drive of Central Park; and be it further
RESOLVED, That while the loop drive of Central Park is free of private motor vehicles, the Central Park Conservancy and the Department of Parks and Recreation study and begin to implement measures that enhance safety and optimize shared use of the loop drive by pedestrians, runners, cyclists, carriages, and pedicabs in the absence of private motor vehicles; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the DOT monitor air quality at the corners of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street; Seventh Avenue and 59th Street; Madison Avenue and 59th Street; and Eighth Avenue and 59th Street; and be it further
RESOLVED, That both the controlled traffic study and air quality study present clear statistics measuring conditions relating to vehicular volume and air quality, respectively, both prior to and during the trial period; and be it further
RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends denial of the proposal to DOT to establish a two month trial period for a motor vehicle-free Central Park beginning the weekend of July 4th 2011 unless the DOT agrees to present the results of both of the above-mentioned studies to CB5 as soon as is practical in order to allow CB5 the opportunity to comment and vote upon the feasibility of any future limitations on the use of Central Park by motor vehicle.
The above resolution passed with a vote of 21 in favor, 15 opposed, 1 abstaining.