(New York, NY - WNYC) Central Park is getting a new two-way bike lane this summer.
The NYC Department of Transportation will create it by removing a vehicle lane from a roadway that crosses the park from east to west at 72nd Street. The roadway, called The Terrace Drive, passes next to Bethesda Fountain and is open to cars on weekdays between 8 and 10 a.m.
Doug Blonsky of the Central Park Conservancy says the change is needed to keep the growing number of recreational users safe from each other.
"The park is getting so popular and so busy that there's so many more people and there's so many more bicyclists," he said. "We have to, as much as we can, try to separate the two."
Blonsky said 38 million people visit Central Park per year, a greater than threefold increase since 1984.
The park has three types of east-west crossings: below-grade transverses that are mainly used by cars, roadways like The Terrace Drive, and non-vehicular pathways. The new crosstown bikeway, which is a pilot program, will be the second of its kind in the park. The first is on a non-vehicular pathway at 96th Street. Park rules require cyclists to walk their bikes on east-west crossings that don't have bike lanes.
Blonsky said the NYC DOT will be adding traffic lights where the new bike lane crosses the park's circular roadway in two places. He said a DOT study found reducing vehicular traffic from two lanes to one on the half-mile-long drive shouldn't delay drivers more than a few seconds per trip.