The most dangerous intersection for pedestrians and cyclists in Central Park is just steps from the Upper East Side, representatives for The Central Park Conservancy revealed, while also sharing the details of a new $250,000 traffic study aimed and generating recommendations to improve safety for park-goers.
“We really thought that there would be a lot more incidents at the very southern end [of Central Park], because it’s so much more crowded down there,” said David Salonstall of The Central Park Conservancy, “but really, what we found is that the crowds actually serve to slow people down so much that you don’t get serious accidents.
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However, Salonstall says that an area near the 72nd Street entrance to the park on the Upper East Side is the most dangerous spot in the park.
“This is the highest number on the map,” Salonstall explained, pointing to the intersection of East Drive and Terrace Drive, “and it has a lot to do with the geometry of this intersection. It’s a real situation.”
According to a review of incidents by The Central Park Conservancy, there were 30 crashes at that intersection that were serious enough to warrant both a police and EMS response — that figure is 20% higher than the second most dangerous spot, East 79th Street and West Drive, which had 24 crashes during the same period.
Within minutes of arriving at Central Park’s most dangerous intersection, Upper East Site witnessed a girl on a scooter nearly strike a runner while trying to navigate the traffic in the area, which includes pedestrians, cyclists, motorcycles, cars and trucks.
The Central Park incident data was revealed during a presentation to Community Board 8’s Transportation Committee last week, where the representative from The Conservancy shared the details of a study currently underway, gathering information about the biggest concerns from park-goers, including pedestrians and cyclists.
“I want to ask you to be cognizant of the fact that you have many stakeholders here and [bikers] are not the only one[s],” said Community Board member Michelle Birnbaum, “they’re also not the most important.”
“The City has made an enormous effort to accommodate them on almost every street in the city,” Birnbaum added, making a plea to keep pedestrians top of mind, “I’m just asking you to give others equal voice.”
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The online survey, which is currently active, asks respondents how they get to and use the Central Park, as well as for feedback on potential ways to improve park safety.
However, Conservancy representative points out that any changes to the park need the approval of various City agencies.
“At the end of the day, whatever the recommendations are of this study will have to be embraced by City Hall, by the Parks Department, by the Department of Transportation,” explained Salonstall, “because we, The Conservancy, have no authority at the end of the day to change the roads, or change the rules or put in different signals.”
The study is part of a multi-year plan in collaboration with the Department of Transportation that aims to increase safety and mobility on the park’s drives for the 42 million people who visit the park each year.
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