New York City will ban cars from Central Park, except on transverse roads, beginning June 27, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.
The prohibition, which applies to all but emergency vehicles, will close Center Drive, Terrace Drive, East Drive and West Drive, which now allow traffic on weekday mornings.
The transverse roads — which are below street grade — at 97th, 86th, 79th and 65th streets will remain open.
“It’s time to focus this park on the people. It really is,” de Blasio said on WNYC radio before the announcement, timed to coincide with Earth Day, which is Sunday.
Cars have been permitted in the park’s scenic loops for more than 100 years, his office said, although limits on the entrances and hours allowed for automotive use began in the 1966, under John Lindsay.
“This was not the purpose of this park, to be a place for automobiles. Literally it was built before there were automobiles. It was built for people,” he said at a news conference in the park Friday.
The ban de Blasio announced Friday expands a partial prohibition imposed in 2015, when de Blasio barred traffic in the park north of 72nd Street.
Last year, de Blasio banned all cars from Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
Parks Commissioner Mitch Silver said, “I’m actually going to walk and run, delightfully, maybe around the entire six-mile loop” on June 27 to commemorate the car-free Central Park.