Summer 2003, p.12

Parks
T.A. Rallies to Stop Speeding Frenzy in Central Park
T.A. radar study finds 1 of 4 motorists in Central Park exceeding speed limit by 10 mph

Transportation Alternatives' Car-Free Central Park Committee gathered on June 2 to tell motorists to slow down and to bring attention to the epidemic of speeding on Central Park's loop drive. The rally was given extensive airplay by NY 1 TV news and covered by Fox 5 TV. But to date, there has been no crackdown on speeders in Central Park.
Ever wonder just how fast those cars in Central Park are really going? So did we. So for five days in June, T.A. used a radar gun to measure speeds at various locations around the park's loop drive. The results confirmed what most park users have long known: speeding in the park is out of control. T.A. found that 90% of motorists speed and that 23% drive more than 10 mph over the 30 mph limit.

Central Park's loop drive is used by thousands of runners, cyclists, walkers and skaters during the popular morning and evening periods when cars are allowed in the park. These vulnerable users are separated from the speeding vehicles by a thin white line and a few feet of space. The speeding puts them at severe risk of being struck and killed or injured; indeed, Jesus Martinez, a promising amateur bicycle racer for Kissena Bicycle Club, was hit by a speeding car in 1998 while training in the recreation lane on the loop drive and had part of one foot severed.

Ken Coughlin, chair of Transportation Alternatives' Car-Free Central Park Committee summed up the problem. "Cars and Central Park do not mix," he said. "Cab drivers and other motorists treat the park drive like a Grand Prix course. Putting thousands of joggers, cyclists and skaters in a recreation lane inches away from these speeding cars is a recipe for disaster."

Coughlin noted that speeding has been a problem in the Park for decades and that despite years of complaints, police speed enforcement is limited and sporadic. "Of course the police should enforce the speed limit in Central Park. But they have their hands full and there will never be enough cops to permanently stop speeding in Central Park. The clear answer to this ongoing safety crisis is to make Central Park car-free."


Radar Speed Study

Using the same kind of radar gun as many police departments as well as standard traffic engineering sampling methods, Transportation Alternatives measured the speeds of 850 vehicles on Central Parks loop drive on five weekdays in June. (For the full speed study, see www.transalt.org/press/releases/030701cpark.html).

Findings

The posted speed limit in Central Park is 30 mph. The average speed is 36 mph.

90% of motorists exceed the legal speed limit
67% exceed the speed limit by 5 mph or more
23% exceed the speed limit by 10 mph or more

Read the latest news about the Car-Free Central Park campaign.