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NYC Central Park traffic closure withdrawn

Transportation Alternatives has announced the withdrawal of Intro 276, which would have closed Central Park to all motorized traffic for the summer. Please read the press release, enjoy the increased car-free hours that we have won, and stay tuned for more activity that will make New York a better place to roll under your own steam!

I am sorry to report that City Council bill Intro. 276, mandating a
car-free Central Park this summer, has been withdrawn. While the measure
had broad support in the Council, with 14 co-sponsors (including all but
one of the Council members whose districts surround the park) and a total
of 21 committed "yes" votes, it did not gain the crucial support of
Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Speaker Quinn would prefer to see how
the Bloomberg administration's six-month trial closing of the non-rush
hour portions of the loop road works out before moving on to the broader
closures sought by Transportation Alternatives.

The mayor announced the trial closing as a move to undercut support for
the bill, and it worked. But all is not lost. We may have lost this
battle, but it looks highly likely that we are going to win the war.

First, the mayor's trial closing is another significant step towards a
completely car-free park. Once this latest closing, like all the others
before it, is shown to have no discernible impact on traffic, those who
oppose Intro. 276's broader closures based on a traffic argument will no
longer be able to meet their burden of proof.

Second, Speaker Quinn has indicated that if the trial closing proves a
success (i.e., does not significantly add to congestion on surrounding
streets), she is inclined to support a measure similar to this year's
car-free summer bill.

All this is to say that while we didn't get all we wanted this year, the
campaign was a success. Our efforts got the attention of the mayor, the
speaker, and the press as never before and established Transportation
Alternatives as a force to be reckoned with in the City Council. There's
now a widespread perception that a car-free parks bill can pass the
Council. Best of all, we are now extremely well positioned for next year.

This summer and fall we will be further strengthening the case for a fully
car-free park. Specifically, we hope to conduct air quality tests during
car-free and non-car-free hours, as well as traffic counts to measure the
impact of the mayor's trial closing. We'll likely be calling on you for
help in these efforts. Stay tuned.

To all who marched, rallied and wrote letters last fall and this spring,
thank you. You had a hand in this partial victory, and you should be proud.
And a special thank you should be extended to Council member Gale Brewer
for introducing the car-free summer bill and sticking with it to the end.

Hang in there. We're almost home.

Ken Coughlin, Chair
Transportation Alternatives' Car-Free Central Park Committee

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