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Moving to further reduce traffic in city parks, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced yesterday that stretches of Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn would close to cars under a six-month pilot program to begin June 5.
Under the plan, vehicles will no longer be able to use the East Drive of Central Park north of 72nd Street during weekday mornings or the West Drive in the afternoons. In Prospect Park, drivers will lose morning access to the West Drive, which runs roughly parallel to Prospect Park West.
“For many years people coming to Prospect Park or Central Park for recreation during weekdays have had to share road space on the park drives with automobiles,” Mr. Bloomberg said in Prospect Park as he announced the changes.
“These new regulations will be especially welcome for the cyclists, joggers and in-line skaters who use the park drive and it should also make entering and leaving the parks safer for pedestrians.”
The changes come as public pressure to ban park traffic entirely has been increasing and as the City Council is considering a bill, introduced by Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, that would mandate a trial of more comprehensive restrictions. But Mr. Bloomberg said that although he might personally like to see such a ban, it was unrealistic because of the congestion it would cause on surrounding streets.
“It would be better if you didn’t have cars in parks,” he said, adding that it would create chaos to ban traffic completely during the morning and evening rushes.
Officials estimated that 865 vehicles would be affected by the Central Park closings and 357 by those in Prospect Park. By contrast, Mr. Bloomberg said, on weekdays 70,000 people use Central Park and 15,000 use Prospect Park.
In Central Park, the West Drive will be open to cars only between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., while the East Drive north of 72nd Street will be open only from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. From 72nd Street to 57th Street and the Avenue of the Americas, the East Drive will continue to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In Prospect Park, only the East Drive will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., while both the East and West Drives will be open between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.