One of the biggest perks of living uptown is unquestionably the proximity to Central Park. The 847 acres of urban greenery serve as a playground for New Yorkers and tourists alike — a place to run, cycle and unwind amidst the oft-chaotic backdrop of Manhattan. Of course, considering its immense popularity, rules and regulations are required to maintain order. A particularly hot button issue? The iconic drives which run throughout.
Back in June 2018, vehicles were banned from the drives, freeing up space for pedestrian activities. But since the announcement, an uptick of alternative traffic has created congestion — and the Central Park Conservancy is taking action. In partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation and NYC Parks, the Conservancy has launched a multi-year study to gather information and suggestions from the public on how to improve conditions and safety of the drives.
“Even before the pandemic, the drives were very congested and full of competing uses,” Erica Sopha, Vice President for Park Use and Stewardship, told us. “Once the pandemic began, we started to see an entirely new kind of use on the drives — [including] e-devices of all kinds. We saw a huge increase of delivery services on bikes and e-bikes as well, so more transportation was happening on the drives. We also saw New Yorkers in unprecedented numbers.”
Based on frequent public feedback (and observations from team members in the field), the Conservancy is hoping all New Yorkers who spend time in Central Park will fill out this survey (available here in Spanish) to share any relevant thoughts on how to elevate the experience of the drives. From there, they plan on spending approximately one year acquiring findings and then working closely with the City in order to tackle any concerns. There will also be community meetings in the not-so-distant future (we will keep you posted with further information as it becomes available).
Though the Conservancy doesn’t keep data on accidents within the park, e-bike incidents have been a frequent discussion over the past few years.