New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that Central Park will become permanently car-free starting on June 1.
NYC’s most famous park is following in the footsteps of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, which became car-free in January of this year.
“Our parks are for people, not cars,” De Blasio said in a statement. “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.”
Terrace Drive, Center Drive, and West Drive all allow vehicles on weekday mornings, but this will no longer be the case starting in June. However, none of the major crosstown thoroughfares at 66th, 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets will be affected.
De Blasio first teased this announcement on Twitter on April 19th, which sources later confirmed to the New York Daily News was about the new vehicle ban.
Central Park goes car free in June. 24/7, 365 days a year — because parks are for people, not cars. pic.twitter.com/kvRUgIudx1— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 20, 2018
This traffic change marks a huge win for safe streets activists who have lobbied for a vehicle ban in Central Park for more than a decade. Back in 2005, Transportation Alternatives collected 100,000 signatures in support of a total ban on vehicles in the park, which sees an estimated 35+ million visitors each year.
“Over the years, we’ve stood in the cold, in the heat, in the rain, and in the snow to win the support of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” TransAlt executive director Paul Steely White said in a statement. “Progress comes in fits and starts—a weekend trial here, a seasonal trial there—and often without any assurance that meaningful reform is coming. So we’re thrilled to finally witness a positive conclusion to the four decade-long campaign to rid Central Park of vehicular traffic, and we’re grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for returning Central Park to what it was always meant to be: a place for people, not for cars.”