Friday, May 12, 2006

New policy will help owls

West Drive Owl- 2/5/06
Photo by Bruce Yolton

Owl and bird-watcher Barbara Kent sent in this article from the NY Times, noting that our male West Drive owl might still be alive if this policy had been implemented three months ago:

May 8, 2006

Additional Roadways in N.Y. Parks to Be Closed

Moving to further reduce traffic in city parks, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced today that stretches of Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn will close to cars under a six-month pilot program to begin June 5.

Under the plan, in Central Park, vehicles would 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 traffic would lose morning access to the West Drive.

Officials said that the restrictions were intended to reduce potential conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles in the parks, and to increase weekday access for activities other than driving.

"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, and in all fairness it hasn't always been an easy relationship," Mr. Bloomberg said in Prospect Park as he announced the changes. "These new regulations will be especially welcome for the cyclists, joggers and inline skaters who use the park drive and it should also make entering and leaving the parks safer for pedestrians."

Officials estimated that approximately 865 vehicles would be affected by the Central Park closures and about 357 by those in Prospect Park. By contrast, Mr. Bloomberg said, on weekdays an average of 70,000 people use Central Park and 15,000 use Prospect Park. Officials said that they do not anticipate that the closures would unduly snarl traffic on streets surrounding the parks but said that they plan to study the affects of the changes in November with an eye toward making them permanent.

With the exception of the crosstown transverses in Central Park, both parks will remain closed to motor vehicles overnight and on weekends. In Central Park, only the West Drive will be open to cars 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 6th Avenue, 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.