WNBC: Pedestrian Paths in Central Park to Open to Bikes

WNBC interviewed Steve Vaccaro about the plan to create shared cyclist-pedestrian crosstown paths in Central Park.

Bicyclists trying to cross Central Park now may get access to a shortcut — they will be allowed on crosstown paths where bikes have long been prohibited.

The New York Times reports¬†that the Central Park Conservancy and the city’s Parks Department are trying out the plan as soon as this month.

Two paths near 97th Street and another near 102nd Street will be open to cyclists. The caveat is that the speed limit will be 5 mph.

Traffic rules now prohibit bikes — or require them to be walked — on the park’s pedestrian paths. So bicyclists seeking to get across the park have typically had to ride the full loop or attempt to ride on the crowded transverse roads.

The new plan is already sparking controversy — not only between anti-bike groups and cyclists, but also between the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, according to the Times.

The community board on the Upper East Side opposed the plan, while the Upper West¬†Side’s board approved it.

A community board member on the Upper East Side said bicyclists aren’t inconvenienced as the rules stand now.

“You’re not crossing the Gobi Desert,” Elizabeth Ashby told the Times. “If they’re healthy enough to ride a bike, they’re healthy enough to walk the bike less than half a mile.”

Steve Vaccaro, a member of Transportation Alternatives, said riding the extra miles around the loop is fine “when it’s a beautiful day and we want to take a beautiful ride.”

“But that’s not really an option for transportation,” he added.