Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
PHOTOS: Central Park Gets First East/West Shared Bike/Pedestrian Path
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 04:59 PM
In the past, bicyclists wanting to cross Central Park had two legal choices: ride a couple of extra miles around the loop, or use the more direct -- but narrow and often dangerous -- transverses used by vehicles.
Shortly before New Year's, the New York City Parks Department and the Central Park Conservancy began a six-month pilot program permitting bicyclists to share a pedestrian path south of the 97th Street transverse. According to a Parks Department spokesperson, the path will be monitored to see if it should continue -- or possibly even be expanded.
When the shared path program was first announced last June, there were supposed to be two. Parks wouldn't comment on why the number of paths in the trial program had been reduced to one. But the lanes were not exactly welcomed by Community Board 8 -- the board representing the east side. And last year, Central Park seemed to become center stage for a bike ticketing crackdown.
But earlier this week, when TN checked out the path, all was quiet. The park was relatively uncrowded at 10:30 in the morning on the west side.
Earlier reports indicted that there might be posted speed limits for cyclists, but the signs currently in place tell bicyclists to "ride slowly." Other rules: yield to pedestrians, ride in single file, and no bicycle groups over four people.
If you're looking for it, the path is just south of the 97th Street transverse and passes just north of the tennis courts on the West Side. (For a map of Central Park, go here.)
Have you used the path yet? Let us know your experience, and comment below!