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City Approves New Design for Central Park's Cherry Hill

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A controversial renovation is going forward in Central Park. On Monday, the city's Public Design Commission approved a $1.4 million redesign of Cherry Hill, the lakeside concourse and fountain near 72nd St.

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Features

A Homecoming: King of Latin Soul Joe Bataan Returns to Central Park

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

On Wednesday night, Central Park Summerstage presents a free concert of old school Latin boogaloo music with local heroes Johnny Colon and Joe Bataan. For Bataan, who is now 69 years old, the Central Park gig will be a kind of homecoming.

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Features

Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Martha Wainwright Pay Homage to Shel Silverstein

Friday, August 05, 2011

On Saturday, the sidewalk ends in Central Park. The author, poet, songwriter and cartoonist Shel Silverstein -- known to many for children's books like Where the Sidewalk Ends -- will be lauded in a, um, "Shelebration" as part of Central Park's SummerStage series.

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Transportation Nation

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

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 that...it 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.

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Operavore

Monday in the Park with the Met

Monday, July 11, 2011

As the Met revisits its new tradition of summer recital series, WQX-Aria blogger Olivia Giovetti asks whether these summer offerings may be better than full-length operas.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Dueling Transportation Bills Released in House, Senate; US and Mexico Reach Cross-Border Trucking Deal, and LA Girds for "Carmageddon"

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dueling transportation bills will be rolled out today in both the House and the Senate. (Wall Street Journal)

The U.S. and Mexican governments reached an accord to resolve a 15-year cross-border trucking dispute. (The Takeaway)

The Twin Cities' transit system is facing a fare increase -- and a round of cuts. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Metro Atlanta is in for a reality check today when the Atlanta Regional Commission chops the region's $22.9 billion wish list of transportation projects in half. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

New York City won't test-drive a ban on cars in Central Park -- despite local community board support. (New York Daily News)

Officials broke ground on what will be Los Angeles County's first freeway toll lanes, the idea being that drivers will be willing to pay significant sums to avoid rush-hour traffic.  (Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, Los Angeles girds itself for the coming "carmageddon." (New York Times)

Some major US companies are leaving the suburbs and relocating their headquarters in cities. (Marketplace)

A flying car -- or "roadable aircraft," whichever you prefer -- has gotten regulatory clearance from the federal government. Watch the video below to see it in action -- folding wings and all. (Wall Street Journal)

Crafters: knit your own bike basket.

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Soundcheck

Gig Alert: Novalima

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The innovative Afro-Peruvian collective Novalima joins Ely Guerra and Jarabe de Palo at Summerstage on Wednesday. Download Novalima's "Se Me Van" here.

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WNYC News

City Council Seeks to Further Regulate Pedicab Industry

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pedicab drivers could soon be required to display a bill of rights for passengers in their cabs and provide detailed receipts even before a trip begins.

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WQXR Features

Cancellation of Philharmonic's Summer Parks Tour Draws Mixed Reactions

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The New York Philharmonic's announcement on Tuesday that it is cancelling its annual round of free concerts in city parks this summer has been met with mixed reviews from fans, writers and affiliated business owners. What do you think? Take our poll.

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Features

Street Performers Upset Over New Central Park 'Quiet Zones'

Monday, May 30, 2011

Street performer John Boyd has been coming to the Bethesda Fountain and to Strawberry Fields in Central Park every weekend for the last four years to sing opera and jazz classics. But if park officials have their way, Boyd and others will no longer be performing there. Last week, the Central Parks Conservancy posted new "Quiet Zone" signs at the Bethesda Fountain and in Strawberry Fields that explicitly forbid the use of musical instruments and amplification there.

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Transportation Nation

Car-Free Central Park Won't Happen Until September, If Then

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Central Park's Great Lawn (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Neither New York City Mayor Michael Blooomberg nor City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is getting behind legislation banning cars from Central Park's loop drives -- even on a trial basis.

City Council member Gale Brewer's bill has four co-sponsors. But no hearing has been scheduled, and both the Mayor's office and Speaker Quinn said this week they had no official position on the measure.   The speaker generally controls the council agenda (and most of the votes in the heavily Democratic body), and legislation with her support tends to pass overwhelmingly.

A report on the Central Park Conservancy's website says the presence of cars is one of the most common complaints.

Last week Brewer sent a letter to the mayor asking for a six-week trial closure this summer.  But the Mayor says he won't discuss the matter until there's a hearing, and a spokesman for City Council Transportation Chair James Vacca says there's no room in the schedule for a hearing until September, at the earliest.

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Transportation Nation

"Consensus" Reached to Reduce Central Park Bike Ticketing

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cyclists running a red light in Central Park. (Alex Goldmark)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation)

While police continue to step up enforcement of cyclists who violate New York City traffic laws around the five boroughs, Central Park cyclists may see some relief.  (If you've been ticketed, tell us about it here for a crowdsourcing project.) Two city council members, along with cycling advocates, report that a consensus was reached after a meeting with police, multiple community groups and local elected officials.

The meeting late last month was hosted by City Council Members Gale Brewer, Dan Garodnick and the Central Park Conservancy. Garodnick says, the "consensus view was that the police would continue to enforce the law, but would focus their ticketing on cyclists who speed through lights when there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk waiting to cross.” Ticketing in Central Park escalated significantly early this year, and made headlines after police made house calls to apologize to a handful or bike riders who erroneously received speeding tickets.

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He said there was "general understanding" that this was the consensus in the room, and the the police were "O.K." with the consensus.

Council Member Brewer stressed the police did not formally endorse any plan. "It's not a new law, but it could be a practice," she said. "The overall concept is: if there's a red light and there's pedestrian, the rules apply, you have to stop on a bicycle. If there's a red light and no pedestrian, you can go on," she said. She explained that all parties at the meeting discussed details like potential sight lines for seeing pedestrians and still agreed this was a workable solution. The informal agreement was arrived at after all parties cited safety as a primary concern. Pedestrians don't want cyclists whizzing past without yielding, and cyclists didn't want to sit at stop lights when nobody was there to cross. So participants at the meeting came to an agreement that it would be safe for cyclists to ride through red lights if there are no pedestrians nearby.

At the meeting were representatives from the Department of Transportation, Parks Department, the Central Park Conservancy, as well as runners groups, cycling clubs and pedestrian advocates.

The DOT has already changed the timing on the traffic signals to make it easier for cyclists to ride around the Central Park loop without encountering a red light. President of the New York Cycle Club, Ellen Jaffe who was at the meeting, says, "anecdotally, there has been a great lessening of tickets" among members of her club, which is mostly includes racing cyclists who train early in the mornings or late at night when the park isn't as crowded, as well as more occasional bike riders.  She added, "I haven't heard of any [tickets] recently and it was a constant drumbeat on our message board" for months.

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Features

Central Park Zoo Welcomes Two New Sea Lions Into the Family

Friday, May 06, 2011

WNYC

PHOTOS. Sea lions Katie, who is 2 years old, and Edith, who is 9, joined zoo veterans Scooter, 25, and April, 20, in the Central Park Zoo sea lion court.

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Transportation Nation

On Central Park Traffic Lights, NY Cycling Club Begs To Differ

Friday, April 08, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) We reported yesterday that the NYC DOT is denying it's making special arrangements for cyclists in Central Park, who've been subject to a heavy blitz of traffic tickets lately for running red lights on the park loop, even when the park is closed to cars.

“The current light synchronization for 25 mph is not a new timing plan," the NYC DOT told us.  "DOT adjusted the timing for several signals on March 26 on Central Park’s drives after an inspection determined that some had fallen out of synch.”

Well, turns out the New York City Cycling Club has a different interpretation:   It issued this statement:

"NYCC and other members of the cycling community have been meeting with a number of concerned parties, including City Council members, Community Boards, staff from the DOT and others.  It's our understanding that this pilot program has been arranged to allow cyclists some time in Central Park to do the kind of training laps that we've been accustomed to doing.

"We are appreciative and understand our responsibility to be safe cyclists.  This pilot program will encompass the early morning hours from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday when there are few pedestrians in the Park, so we do not foresee any problems."

Keep us informed on how it's going.

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Transportation Nation

Central Park Cycling Ticket Blitz: The Lights Are Changing

Thursday, April 07, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Here's what the NYC DOT says about rumors of a change to the traffic signals in Central Park:

"The current light synchronization for 25 mph is not a new timing plan. DOT adjusted the timing for several signals on March 26 on Central Park's drives after an inspection determined that some had fallen out of synch."

Tweaking traffic signal synchronization may not seem like hot news, but it could be a partial solution to the increasingly heated brouhaha over ticketing cyclists in Central Park for running red lights and for one day, speeding. If the lights are synched, then there will be fewer reds to run.

This morning New York Cycle Club's President Ellen Jaffe posted that she had news of the signal synchronization and that there may be other changes afoot in policing of red light running in the park. Transportation Nation is still trying to confirm that with NYPD. We'll update you if we learn anything.

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Transportation Nation

Confusing Signs Removed After Cyclists Ticketed, Police Apologize via House Call

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit responsible for caring for New York's Central Park, is removing the confusing signs that led Police to ticket nine cyclists improperly for speeding Tuesday. What's more, the NYPD took the unusual step of making house calls to apologize for the erroneous citations.

While the speed limit is actually 25 mph, decades-old signs wrongly posted that the speed limit is 15 mph.    Police said they had followed those old signs.

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Early Tuesday morning, police set up a radar speed trap in Central Park.  They snagged 10 cyclists for going over the posted speed limit for bicycles of 15 m.p.h. during the car free hours of the park. David Regen was one of them. He was surprised to get pulled over just after one of the park's biggest hills.

"I've been riding in Central Park probably for 25 years and I've never been stopped by a police officer for anything before," he said. What was more unusual though, was what happened 13 hours later around dinnertime when police showed up at his door and told him he was treated unfairly and withdrew the ticket.

"I thought it was extraordinary that they came, physically to my door, that two officers came to my door to tell me this," he said.

Listen to an interview with Regen:

NYPD took the proactive step of personally visiting the cited cyclists to withdraw the tickets after they realized the summonses were issued as motor vehicle violations under the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) when they should have been summonses for violating park regulations.

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Transportation Nation

Parks Are For People, Not Cars, Says City Councilwoman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Central Park (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) A New York City Council member is pushing to ban cars from the loop drives in Central Park and Prospect Park.

Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, said this isn't the first time the idea's been floated. In 2006, the City Council held a hearing on this issue, but the legislation was withdrawn after Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned cars in the parks for much of the day.

Which, Brewer said, made the parks even more popular.

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"Parks are supposed to be livable, and you're supposed to be able to do exercise, and you're supposed to be able to breathe," Brewer said. "I think that cars do not have a place in these two parks...That’s why I’m introducing this legislation – to just have the people, not the cars."

Read the full story at WNYC.

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Transportation Nation

Central Park Becomes Center Stage for NYC Bike Crackdown

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cyclists running a red light in Central Park. (Alex Goldmark)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation)  Cyclist Derrick Lewis used to train every day in  Central Park. On a cold February morning he had just put new brakes on his bike. “I took a short test ride on my bicycle and very slowly rolled through a red light and a police officer in a small three wheeled vehicle pulled me over and gave me a $270 ticket.” He felt singled out as a cyclist because, he says, pedestrians aren't ticketed for jaywalking, nor are the horse-drawn carriages he points out.

This kind of comparison has been common on the NYC bike blogs and local papers since rumors of a crackdown began to surface in mid-January. One notable video made the rounds showing what it is like to stop at various lights on the 6.1 mile loop.

But it's been prompted by an equally fierce reaction from pedestrians, many of whom feel threatened by fast cyclists. “Quite honestly sometimes I wanna knock them off the bike, honest that's how I feel, 'cause they whiz right by you even though I have the light," pedestrian Jeanne Vodak said on a recent sunny morning.

"Sometimes I feel that if I wasn't watching he would have hit me, or the dog, that's the other thing I was concerned about, hitting the dog.”

The commander of the Central Park Precinct, Captain Philip Wishnia, told a crowded community meeting on Monday that in Central Park alone, the NYPD has issued 230 tickets to cyclists since the beginning of the year.

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Features

Egypt Questions Condition of Central Park Antiquity

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

There could soon be a little less Egypt in Central Park. The Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities says unless the city starts taking care of Cleopatra's Needle, Egypt may ask for the antiquity back.

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Micropolis

Pale Male's Lady Hawk Has Gone Missing

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The fuss over Pale Male may have seemed more like a stealth Upper East Side real estate story than about urban wildlife, but now Lola, the red tailed hawk's famous mate with whom he shared a nest at 927 Fifth Ave., has gone missing and may be dead.

From Bruce Yolton at the Urban Hawks blog: "Lola hasn't been seen since mid-December and is unfortunately presumed dead."

But Bruce posted this really nice video, so you can get a sense of how a hawk snacks on squirrel (scroll to 1:44). Seriously, at times it's quite beautiful but can be graphic.

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