Alternatives Commemorates 100 Years of Automobiles in Central Park
nothing in common with the park proper . . . [and] those agreeable sentiments
that we should wish the park to inspire." -Frederick Law Olmsted and
Calvert Vaux, ca. 1859.
On Tuesday November 16, 1999,
representatives from the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense
Council, Harlem Environmental Impact Project, the Empire Skate Association,
and the Central Park Track Club, joined T.A. to mark 100 years of cars in
Central Park, and renew their calls for a Car-Free Central Park.
Central Park is the world's most renowned urban park and, at times, a
beautiful oasis from the hectic pace of city streets. But since the first car
was allowed into the park 100 years ago, thousands of daily park users have
been forced to endure an escalating level of pollution, noise, and personal
danger. Currently, cars are allowed on the Park's loop drive 16 hours each
weekday, and 24 hours on weekends from Thanksgiving to January 1st.
At the ceremony, speakers
addressed the century of intrusion by the automobile into New York's crown
jewel and urged a return to park designer Frederick Law Olmsted's vision of
Central Park as a refuge and retreat from the city.
For 10 years, Transportation Alternatives has been fighting to restore Central
Park to Olmsted's ideal. Citizens have staged more than 20 demonstrations, and
written more than 15,000 letters and postcards asking for a car-free Central
Park. With the passage of this sad anniversary, T.A. is confident that the end
of cars in the park is near. Cars have had their century - it is time for the
people of New York to have theirs.
In the coming months, T.A.'s
Car-Free Central Park Committee will be doing outreach to park users,
community groups, and elected officials to spread the word about a car-free
park. If you'd like to help, contact Neel Scott at 212-629-8080, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central Park Facts
- 75% of the cars using
Central Park have only one passenger.
- All of the motorists
driving in the Park each hour could easily fit into one subway train.
- 45% of Manhattan's surface
is devoted to moving or storing cars; 13% to its parks.
- 77% of Manhattan's
households do not own cars.
- A 1996 NYCDOT study found
that nearly 65% of cars exceed the Loop Drive speed limit of 30 mph. On
the East Drive between East 85th and East 96th Streets, and on the West
Drive between West 81st and West 72nd Streets, 94% and 82% of motorists,
respectively, exceeded the 30 mph speed limit.
- Every year there are
approximately 250 motor vehicle accidents on park roads.
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