Everyone's favorite NYC green space is giving cars the boot for good. Car traffic will be barred from the last of Central Park's "loop drives" as of June 27, 2018, according to the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Although the park is mostly off-limits to cars, the new rule closes additional roads and frees up more pedestrian and biking space.
The de Blasio adminstration had already made the park drives north of 72nd Street car-free in 2015, and other paved roads had closed to cars or reduced the hours they were accessible over the last several decades. Now those remaining drives that were mostly open on weekdays—Center Drive, West Drive, Terrace Drive—will be blocked to cars. The NYPD, working with DOT, NYC Parks, and the Central Park Conservancy, is expected to ramp up traffic control efforts at those intersections in the transition.
The ban will not affect the separate crosstown roadways at 97th, 86th, 79th, and 65th Streets.
It takes effect on the first day of summer vacation for NYC public school kids who are let out for the year on June 26, 2018. The mayor's office made the announcement just ahead of this weekend's Earth Day celebrations, including a citywide car-free fete that closes various NYC roadways, including portions of Broadway.
The new ban follows a number of city projects to reduce traffic congestion, improve pedestrian safety, and increase public green space throughout NYC. Earlier this year, the city banned all cars from Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
"Our parks are for people, not cars," the mayor said in a statement announcing the ban. "For more than a century, cars have turned parts of the world’s most iconic park into a highway. Today we take it back. We are prioritizing the safety and the health of the millions of parents, children, and visitors who flock to Central Park."
More than 42 million people visit Central Park every year, according to the mayor's office, spending time on its trails, picnicking, biking, or, as we do, swinging and sliding on its many playgrounds.