NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Central Park is going permanently car-free.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new plan Friday to ban vehicles south of 72nd Street beginning June 27.
“Now this park will realize its full potential for our runners, for our walkers, for our bicyclist, for our kids on tricycles,” the mayor said.
De Blasio is hoping to reduce air pollution and keep pedestrians safe with the new ban, which completely closes off the park’s interior roads. Currently, drivers can travel on West, Center and Terrance drives below 72nd Street at 25 mph during certain daytime hours.
“As somebody who bicycles something but also takes a cab it’s like, oh sh*t, I’m going to have to actually take the streets,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
“I was running this morning alongside of the cars and I thought to myself, in a short period of time, we will have the roads to ourself to run in Central Park,” said Michael Capiraso, President and CEO of New York Road Runners.
The new ban does not apply to the crosstown transverses. The city previously banned drivers north of 72nd Street back in 2015.
While some are praising the ban, others worry the totally car-free park will create a traffic nightmare.
“I think it’s great,” one jogger told CBS2’s Reena Roy. “I think it gives us runners and bikers and families and everybody an opportunity to use the park even more and feel safer and not be interrupted. So I think it’s awesome.”
“I think it’s good idea,” another driver said. “Cause too many cars.”
“Less traffic, more safety, much better,” said park goer Ron Hodess. “That’s a great plan — love that plan.”
“It’s gonna create more traffic on the streets,” said resident Ron Kaplan.
“It’s going to affect everybody especially in the morning rush and afternoon rush,” said cab driver Omar Diagne.
“I’m sorry for that. I’m going to miss it because I’ll be stuck in the 59th Street traffic going up Madison Avenue,” said resident Linda Silverman.
The Department of Transportation says the agency will closely monitor how traffic is affected and make changes if necessary.
“It actually does not increase the traffic, you know, we had those studies,” Brewer said.
Prospect Park in Brooklyn also went car-free a few months ago.