Cars May Be Banned From Central Park

There may soon not be any cars in Central Park.

A bill is being introduced before the City Council that would ban all automobiles from the roads inside Manhattan's crowned jewel.

It would begin on a test-case basis for three months, from June to September, 2015.

Experts will study the impact on traffic in the area. The three-month test could then lead to a permanent ban.

The bill was introduced Wednesday by two Manhattan councilmembers, Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine. They say that the bill makes sense due to an increasing number of bicyclists and joggers along the drives.

"When you go to the park, you shouldn't have to weave in and out of traffic," said Levine. "Parks should be a sanctuary." 

The ban would not apply to the cross-town transverse roads that are largely set off from the park by barriers.

Sophie Balzor of the East Village supports the proposal, saying it would make her weekly jogs there safer.

"It's very dangerous when there are cars passing, bikes passing," she said. 

But bicyclist Jake Jacobson doesn't think it's necessary.

"People have to get where they're going, so there's plenty of room for both of us," he said. 

According to figures released by the NYPD, one pedestrian has been struck by a car in Central Park so far this year, compared to 4 by the same time last year.

Six bicyclists have been hit by cars in the park in the year to date, compared to one last year, the NYPD says.  

The car ban could be a nightmare for cabbies and other drivers who use the roads in Central Park, who fear the ban could create residual traffic jams on Fifth Avenue and Central Park West. One cab driver estimated it would cost him an extra half-hour to 45 minutes if the streets are closed during rush hour. 

A vote on the measure has not yet been scheduled.

Follow Sheldon Dutes on Twitter @SheldonDutes4NY

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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