Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Speeding in Central Park

Tickets were handed out to several cyclists this morning in Central Park for speeding.

From the NYCC message board:

"In the early 1990s, when the not so estimable Betsy Gotbaum was Parks Commissioner, before ascending to Public Advocate, she devised and imposed a 15MPH speed limit on bikes in Central Park. She did this all on her own in response to complaints about how dangerous was the pack ride in Central Park, a large group of cowboys who rode in the evenings for the most part and did scare people. And how did she arrive at 15MPH? Very scientifically: she had a chauffeur drive her once around the park and, at the end of it, announced 15MPH seemed right. There was a lawsuit against this. The NYCC was a co-plaintiff and helped in the writing of the submissions. We were represented by a first-rate law firm working pro bono, LeBoeuf and Lamb or Lamb and LeBoeuf. The core of our suit was the city failed to abide by its own required procedures in promulgating a regulation: that there be announced, public hearings on it. It turns out there was a hearing: on the far west side in the middle of a workday and it was not well publicized. My faint recollection it may also have been held very close to Christmas but I may be wrong about that. We lost at the appellate level. The justices couldn't have been more unsympathetic to our argument in their questions: before the lawyers sat down, the conclusion was a given.

Another: Here's a link to the NYC Parks Dept website that says the speed limit during non-car hours is in fact 25mph. http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_things_to_do/facilities/bicycling_greenways/html/af_bike_car_hours_new.html#sites

And finally: The 15 m.p.h. speed limit for bicycles is only when cyclists are in the recreation lane (which is when the drive is open to cars). I believe the logic is that there are also runners and other users in the recreation lane, which is relatively narrow, so it's safer if cyclists are limited to 15. Anyone who received a ticket this morning prior to 8:00 a.m. should definitely fight it because the speed limit for cyclists in the roadway prior to 8:00 a.m. is 25. "

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