The Central Park Conservancy in partnership with NYC Department of Transportation and NYC Parks to examine current usage to improve iconic park drives user experience and investigate cross-park connections
Multi-year plan designed as a community-driven process, to engage a range of park users and kick off with a survey to understand the most pressing needs since the drives became car-free five years ago
New York, NY — Today the Central Park Conservancy, NYC Department of Transportation, and NYC Parks announced a community-informed, multi-year plan of Central Park’s iconic drives to increase safety and mobility, and to investigate improved cross-park connections. The drives are comprised of the six-mile loop road inside of Central Park. Since the banning of cars in 2018, and in part due to the COVID pandemic, the drives have experienced unprecedented use at all times of day by pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, the increasingly popular electric modes of transportation, caregivers, school groups, bird enthusiasts, and many more.
This work commences with a study, which will include research by Sam Schwartz Engineering, and a survey (in English and in Spanish) requesting the public’s feedback on how they use Central Park’s drives. This feedback will spearhead a community-driven process that will include multiple presentations and discussions with local Community Boards and a diverse array of organizations and groups who use the park.
The community’s input will help inform suggested solutions and design interventions to address the co-existence of the multitude of users, while remaining true to the core purpose of Central Park as a respite from the pace and pressures of city life for everyone.
“The Central Park Conservancy wants to hear from everyone who loves and uses Central Park to help inform the recommendations for this in-depth study. As stewards of the Park, this work is a key part of our mission to ensure it serves as a respite from city life for all New Yorkers,” said Betsy Smith, President & CEO, Central Park Conservancy. “The Conservancy is prioritizing this study because the drives affect the Park experience for nearly every visitor, and with the expanded use since the pandemic, the time is now to work together as New York City charts its path forward. We look forward to working alongside city agency partners and the public to enhance the drives’ safety and accessibility and share those learnings with other parks.”
“We look forward to working with our partners at the Central Park Conservancy and NYC DOT on this new study of the Central Park Drives. All of our parks serve as places to rest, play, learn, connect, and more – and this study, along with the Prospect Park Alliance’s study of their Park Drives, will help inform best practices for bringing these iconic Olmsted parks into the 21st century,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue.
“We are excited to work with Parks Department and the Central Park Conservancy to deliver safety, mobility, and public space improvements that meet needs of the growing pedestrian, cyclist, and micromobility users,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “Creating car-free drives has greatly improved the experience of visiting this world-renowned public space and this study will build on those successes with new considerations for cycling connections across the park.”
“Whether on foot or wheels, for play or work, more and more people are relying on Central Park’s loop road,” said Ya-Ting Liu, New York City’s Chief Public Realm Officer. “This study could not have come at a better time as the City comes back stronger than ever from the pandemic, and we take the opportunity to reimagine how Central Park serves all New Yorkers and visitors.”
“Central Park, the first landscaped public park in America, is a space that provides all who visit a chance to escape the grit and grind of the City. We all learned how critical our open spaces are during the pandemic, but improving them requires constant effort. I commend the Central Park Conservancy for undertaking this important new study aimed at enhancing safety and mobility for all users of the Park. Making sure our parks are safe for everyone who runs, bikes, or enjoys a stroll is a top concern. I am confident that the strategies developed for Central Park will help to make all of our parks safer and more accessible,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan, Chair of the City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation.
“Central Park is a jewel of Manhattan, and a place where all users of the park should feel safe and able to travel, relax and enjoy one of the most iconic urban green spaces in the world,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “It’s beyond time we revisit the design of the drives to better align with the mobility needs of New Yorkers today, and I’m looking forward to a future where New Yorkers can cross the park, and travel within it, more easily. Thank you to the Central Park Conservancy, NYC Parks and NYC DOT for doing this work.”
“Shared use is a nonnegotiable value for the park, and so is safety. I’m grateful the Central Park Conservancy is engaging an outside expert and soliciting feedback from the public to find the right balance of well-being and mobility for the drives,” said Council Member Gale Brewer.
The public can take the survey and receive updates and information on upcoming community meetings by joining the study mailing list here. To take the survey in Spanish, click here.
For an image of the drives, please click here.
ABOUT THE CENTRAL PARK CONSERVANCY
The Central Park Conservancy is a private, not-for-profit organization that manages Central Park and is responsible for raising the Park’s annual operating budget. The Conservancy’s staff of more than 300 is responsible for all aspects of the Park’s stewardship, from day-to-day maintenance and operations to continued restoration and rebuilding projects. Additionally, the Conservancy operates the Park’s visitor centers, provides public programs, and serves as a resource for other NYC parks and for public-private partnerships around the world. For more information, please visit centralparknyc.org.