Cars and Central Park share a long story together. A fun fact is that Central Park predates automobiles, and they were amongst the later “visitors” to the park (the first cars arrived somewhere in the late 19th century), thus creating the need for the park to accommodate them.
Motor vehicles found their place at the scenic drives. The Center drive, the West drive, the East drive, and 72nd Cross Street Drive provide drivers with, as their names suggests, scenic views to the park. However, since the early days of driving through the park up, it resulted in numerous road accidents with pedestrians and bicycle drivers, some even with a fatal outcome. Just prior to the closure of the drives, there were nearly 300 accidents per year.
In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the permanent closing of some of the sections of the drives. He stated that the park must be returned to the people and that some parts have been turned into highways. Several closers were put into action up until 2018, where Central Park was closed for cars below 72nd Street.
Banning cars from Central Park was a long (and rather anticipated process). The roads were paved in 1912, then the traffic was changed into unidirectional in 1929. Traffic lights were introduced in 1932. The first closers were in 1967, when the drives were closed for the weekends. By 1979 the drives were open only during rush hours.
Restricting driving through the park means a lot to those that work in Central Park or visit it for recreational purposes and fun. First of all this solves a lot of issues concerning the pollution in the park. Most of the people (if not all) visit the park to get a sip of fresh air in the center of Manhattan. Second – the safety concerns. There were cases of injured people nearly every day of the year. Banning cars makes strolling through the park a lot safer and pleasant. We know that cars are vital to the people of the 21st century, but there are far safer and more pleasant ways of transportation, that allow you to enjoy the park even more. We, at Central Park tours provide excellent offers for pedicab and bike tours that you can find listed below.
We are sure that closing all those drives is a great idea. Just think about the nature and your safety. Let’s keep the comfort of the cars for longer drives. There are way better ways to go through Central Park!