StreetsPAC Urges City Council, Mayor to Drop Central Park Pedicab Ban, Make Park Fully Car-Free

At a hearing today of the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation, StreetsPAC urged the Council and Mayor de Blasio to drop a provision in a proposed bill on reducing the number of horse-drawn carriages in the city that would ban pedicabs in Central Park below the 85th Street Transverse.

Rather than banning human-powered pedicabs, we strongly urged the Council and Administration to make Central Park fully, and permanently, car-free.  Motor vehicles were barred from the majority of Central Park's roadways in 2015, but are still permitted during certain hours between Central Park South and 72nd Streets.

Read our full testimony after the jump.

StreetsPAC wishes to express our deep disappointment that the compromise agreement reached by the City Council and the Mayor regarding the operation of horse-drawn carriages in New York City, as outlined in Intro 573-A, includes a wholly unwarranted ban on pedicabs in Central Park below the 85th Street Transverse.  We strongly urge the members of the Council to oppose such a ban.

To ban pedicabs in the southern half of Central Park while still allowing motor vehicles to operate on the park drives below 72nd Street just doesn’t make sense.  As the purpose of the carriage horse compromise is ostensibly to protect the welfare of the horses, we don’t see how it’s possible to justify continuing to expose them to motor-vehicle traffic in a portion of the park while barring the operation of pedicabs in that same location.  We urge you in the strongest possible terms to amend Intro 573-A, or the relevant portion of the Administrative Code, to render Central Park completely, and permanently, car-free.

We should be redesigning our streets to accommodate a diversity of human and lightly power-assisted vehicles.  Banning pedicabs or other innovative means of transportation anywhere only serves to maintain or even increase our dependence on motor vehicles that degrade our city with noise, soot and toxins, and are overwhelmingly responsible for congestion, traffic injuries, and worse, on New York City’s streets.

Furthermore, significant expenditures of public funds for reasons of safety should be allocated to saving human lives.  The estimated $25 million it will cost to provide a stable in Central Park could go a long way toward making streets safer for all users – carriage horses included – in Astoria, Harlem, Tottenville, the South Bronx, Bensonhurst, or any number of New York City neighborhoods.

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