Posted on June 5, 2020 at 1:46 pm by West Sider

Photo by Stephen Harmon.

By Kate Seklir

The pandemic has made parks even more crucial for exercise and mental health, and Upper West Siders are flocking to them in large numbers. In some cases, that’s led to conflict, and even injury — a jogger was critically injured after a bicyclist hit her in the park on Tuesday.

On Tuesday night, Community Board 7 passed a resolution asking for the NYPD and Parks Enforcement Patrol to protect park users — in particular by stopping bicyclists from breaking traffic laws.

The text is below:

This resolution is based on the following facts:

During the Covid Crisis, use of Central Park by neighborhood residents is an essential means of recreation, exercise, and respite from the need to isolate at home.

Cyclists and other vehicles in Central Park sometimes fail to obey traffic laws and regulations such as failing to stop at red lights, failing to yield, and failing to observe the legal speed limit, and there are also cyclists who ride on pedestrian-only paths. This conduct places pedestrians at risk.

Therefore, be it resolved that Community Board 7/Manhattan calls on the New York Police
Department and the Parks Enforcement Patrol to increase enforcement of violations by cyclists
and other vehicles of traffic laws and regulations and Parks rules to promote pedestrian safety.

The resolution passed 28-2-9-0.

Board member Susan Schwartz supported the resolution and said certain cyclists failing to respect pedestrian paths, red lights, and yield signals. She had witnessed the crash on Tuesday.

Others spoke out against it, believing the proposed increase in enforcement was too harsh and would be ineffective.

“Giving a laundry list of things we’re telling the police to enforce isn’t being smart, it’s not having us tell them to focus on the most important issues, and it works against our objective of safety here,” said board member Richard Robbins. “Pedestrians also often walk into bike lanes without paying attention and cross against the light. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a green light and pedestrians ignore it and I have to avoid them. Having said that, I’m not a fan of calling for jaywalking enforcement. But I think we need to be smart about how we’re calling for enforcement and making sure that it’s doing the right thing. For us to tell the police how to do their jobs and especially if we’re calling for specific enforcement for specific laws, we’re telling them that they’re not doing their job in the right way, and that’s something we need to do with extreme care, especially given the current circumstances.”

Robbins attempted to amend the resolution, but his amendment failed.

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