Summer 2003, p.2

50,000 Sign Petition Calling for Car-Free Central Park

The dedicated Car-Free Central Park Committee has gathered over 50,000 signatures in support of a car-free Central Park.
The dedicated Car-Free Central Park Committee has gathered over 50,000 signatures in support of a car-free Central Park.
Transportation Alternatives Car-Free Central Park Committee has collected the signatures, names and addresses of more than 50,000 New Yorkers who want cars out of Central Park. The all-volunteer petition drive has enlisted sweaty joggers, celebrity cyclists and park-loving pedestrians who all agree on one thing:
"I support making the Central Park drives permanently car-free. Central Park was painstakingly designed to be a green oasis in the city, not a thoroughfare for motor vehicles."

But the petition drive is not over and we need your help to get more signatures. Sign the petition online at www.transalt.org/campaigns/cpark/petition.html and then tell all your friends and family!

How big is 50,000? It is:

  • 2,000 pieces of paper, each with 25 signatures stacked in two very big boxes
  • 15,000 more than the 35,000 motorists who drive through the park everyday
  • Almost twice the average of 26,000 votes received by the city councilmembers whose districts surround the park

Though they are too young to vote or sign a petition, kids want and need car-free parks. The looks of fear on these two girls' faces as they try to bicycle in Prospect Park near speeding cars shows that frustration with cars in parks is learned early. Where can they play if not a park?
Though they are too young to vote or sign a petition, kids want and need car-free parks. The looks of fear on these two girls' faces as they try to bicycle in Prospect Park near speeding cars shows that frustration with cars in parks is learned early. Where can they play if not a park?
Three Myths about Car-Free Parks
There are numerous myths about car-free parks. Here are three.

Myth: "Closing the park to cars will increase congestion on surrounding streets."
Reality: A massive British government study of 50 locations around the world conclusively found that closing roads reduces overall traffic. History shows the same to be true in NYC. In 1958, Fifth Avenue was closed to create Washington Square Park and traffic in the surrounding area declined. In 1973, the elevated West Side Highway was torn down and traffic in southern Manhattan and adjoining streets declined.

Myth: "Cars make the park safer."
Reality: Speeding cars, which crowd park users together and periodically hit them, make Central Park more, not less, dangerous. Crime? The police and other experts agree that the presence of other walkers, runners, skaters and cyclists are what make Central Park safe. More people use the park when it is free of cars.

Myth: "Motorists are park users too."
Reality: Motorists are not "park users." They use the physical space of the park, but they do not use it as a park; they use it as a highway. Half of the land in NYC is already dedicated to moving and storing motor vehicles, and less than 10% to parks. Why should that 10% be compromised by dangerous and loud motor vehicle traffic?


Four Good Reasons for Car-Free Parks
There are numerous reasons for car-free parks. Here are four.

Peace and quiet. New Yorkers endure stressful noise and unhealthy pollution, much of it produced by motor vehicles. Central Park was created to be a haven from these assaults on the senses.
Save lives and prevent injuries. A crowded multi-use lane next to a de facto expressway is a recipe for disaster. Cars average nearly 40 mph when in the park. Each year, cars hit more than a dozen pedestrians and cyclists on the drive and create crowding that causes numerous other crashes.
Decrease traffic near the park. The park drive is a magnet for cabs traveling between Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides. Cabs are 85% of the vehicles using the park drive, and when the park is closed to them, they spread out on the street grid to find the fastest alternative route.
Reduce conflicts between runners, cyclists and skaters. Once cars are out, park users will have more space and time on the park drive, which can be clearly marked to separate users of different types and speeds.

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