New York (AFP) – New York will soon ban cars from its beloved Central Park, the city’s mayor announced Friday, citing a commitment to reducing pollution and “prioritizing people over cars.”
Automobile traffic was already prohibited in the north of Manhattan’s iconic green space, which will celebrate its 160th birthday next year. Vehicles could still circulate, however, on three concrete lanes in the south: West Drive, Terrace Drive and Center Drive.
The traffic ban on those thruways will go into effect June 27, the day after the city’s public schools close for the summer.
The measure does not concern, however, four dedicated below-grade roads that cross the park’s width and are separated from the rest of the park by walls.
“Our parks are for people, not cars. For more than a century, cars have turned parts of the world’s most iconic park into a highway,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in announcing the move. “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.”
The mayor’s decision follows his January decision to designate the loop drive in Brooklyn’s sprawling Prospect Park car-free.
“Central Park is one of New York City’s most iconic open spaces and is used by millions of New Yorkers and visitors,” said Daniel Zarrilli, the city’s Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs.
“Making Central Park car-free will ensure that everyone who enjoys the park will enjoy cleaner air and improved safety in support of the City’s sustainability and climate goals.”