Bloomberg on Car-Free Central Park: Banning Cars Wouldn't Make Much of a Difference

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 04:46 PM

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (photo by Spencer T. Tucker)

Legislation banning cars from Central Park's loop drives has not exactly won full-throated support from the Bloomberg Administration since being introduced earlier this year. While a number of local community boards have endorsed the idea of a pilot ban this summer, an article in today's New York Times said City Hall was resisting the idea, as Transportation Nation previously reported.  And at a press conference today, the mayor was asked about it. Here's a transcript of the exchange:

Reporter: about banning cars in Central Park for the summer - (inaudible -- the agency) said there are no immediate plans. Can you comment?

Mayor Bloomberg: Miss, I think you're just totally ill-informed. The roads where they're talking about we have banned cars for ninety percent of the time already. So we're really only talking about ten percent. We are doing studies, I've talked to the commissioner, yesterday I think it was, she's doing a study. Until we can really understand the traffic patterns and the effect it will have we're just not going to go and rush to do it. I understand why you don't want to have traffic in front of your house, or where you're bicycling, or where you're walking, but there are other people who need the roads to get where they're going to go, and you just can't willy-nilly say 'oh, let's just ban them without doing the real scientific research.' We have data in this day and age, particularly  because of taxis with GPS, to do some real studies. But in the end, we've already -- and we've done it a long time ago -- banned ninety percent of the cars from the roads that are in question. And so we're really talking about -- this is something, it's much of an issue would not make that big a difference.  And we're not going to do it unless it turns out to be a good thing. I don't think anybody should question our Department of Transportation's or this administration's willingness to to try new things with cars, bicycles, pedestrians, we've tried to be very innovative, creative, and run risks. But every one of those things we did with real data. Sometimes the data can be misleading, in the end, and you go back. But the responsible thing is to do exactly what our transportation commissioner is doing.

Question: some people say it's hypocritical for a mayor who calls himself "bike Mike" to not ban cars from all of Central Park.

Mayor Bloomberg: By that argument we should ban cars from coming into the city totally. I don't think you can do that. Yes, I'm in favor of multiple ways to get around - bicycles are one of them, walking is one of them, taking mass transit is a very important one - and driving cars. What we really need to do is have a disincentive to bring your car into the city and enhance the monies available for improving mass transit. And if somebody could come up with a plan that could do that, like maybe charging people to come in the city and using the money to help the MTA - you have to go to Albany. Maybe they've heard that before.


Comments [7]

Albert Ahronheim


Jul. 13 2011 11:40 AM
Albert Ahronheim

Part 3 (of probably 5 more):

Several times a year the loop is closed to traffic during afternoon rush hour, for corporate events. The result has been minimal negative impact

Jul. 13 2011 11:11 AM
Albert Ahronheim

The remainder (hopefully) of my comment, which doesn't seem to appear in full above:

...Several times a year the loop is closed to traffic during afternoon rush hour, for Philharmonic Concerts and for Opera in the Park. The result has been minimal negative impact

Jul. 13 2011 11:10 AM

Mayor Bloomberg commenting on what is good for NYC traffic is a joke.
His only concern is to make it easier for the chauffeur driven vehicles that drive corporate executives get around NYC. Several years ago he proposed a congestion pricing plan wherby drivers would have to pay to drive in certain areas of NYC. Ostensibly this would reduce traffic. The payment would be tax deductibe for corporations and the captains of industry. The average person would not be able to get the tax deduction!!!! Fair? Of course not, but it would have created less traffic for corporation owned vehicles.

If he were serious about reducing traffic he would do something about the double and triple parkers that drop off coporate executives off for breakfast at the St Regis or other places. Watch the police who do no even ask these people to move.

Why doesn' Bloomberg enforce the laws for all when it comes to traffic? Probably because he is one of thoses captains of industry himself

Jul. 13 2011 11:04 AM
Albert Ahronheim

From comments I made at the Community Board 8 Transportation Committee meeting last month:

There is nothing to fear from the proposed car-free Central Park trial. Similar real-world experiments have already been done many times right in Central Park

Jul. 13 2011 10:57 AM

Why not go all the way and truly make New York like Paris? two hour lunches and socilized benefits! Were is Jimmy Breslin when we need him. I am in NY why does it have to resemble Paris? A Bostonite that does not respect what New York is. We need to get ride of Crime not Cars! better Transportation for our taxes not bikes for everyone?? The majority of NYC lives outside of Manhattan.

Jul. 13 2011 10:30 AM

If the park was open to traffic overnight, I'd buy Mike's "ten percent" argument, but it doesn't hold water.

The ten percent of the time the cars are in the park just happens to coincide with the prime time hours for pre- and post-work/school exercising, walking, or going out with the family and the dog. If you get home from work at 5 or six and want to go for a ride or a run, you have to wait until the cars are out to enjoy it safely. By September shorter daylight hours make that wait harder to do.

And if Mike wants "real data" on how closing the park would affect traffic, he can conduct his own experiment by approving a trial closing of the park through the summer, which is what 100% of the surrounding community boards want.

Jul. 12 2011 04:55 PM

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