District 7 City Council member Mark Levine is calling for better enforcement of speed limits in city parks after a speeding cyclist struck and killed pedestrian Jill Tarlov in Central Park last week.
Levine, who is the chair of the council's Committee on Parks and Recreation, released a statement earlier this week proposing to reduce the speed limit in parks from 25 to 20 miles per hour.
"In light of the tragic death of Jill Tarlov, I'm calling for a reduction of the speed limit in NYC parks for both motor vehicles and bicycles," Levine said in a statement.
Tarlov, 59, died last Monday after being hit by cyclist Jason Marshall, 31, on Sept. 18 in Central Park near 63rd Street. Although investigators haven't determined how fast Marshall was going when he hit Tarlov, the New York Post reported that he had logged a speed of 35.6 miles per hour on a cycling app earlier that day—more than 10 miles per hour over the bicycle speed limit in the park.
Levine said in the statement that the city has the authority to reduce the speed limit without state approval because it would be enacted under the Department of Transportation's Slow Zone program. He added, however, that the challenge is to enforce any change.
"Of course, a lower speed limit will have no impact unless it is strictly enforced," Levine said in the statement. "I look forward to coordinating with Parks and the NYPD to make sure they continue to step up their efforts in this regard."
Local bike advocate J.P. Partland also said that he didn't support Levine's proposal.
"The fear is responding to a crisis that doesn't exist," Partland said. "We don't know how fast the cyclist was going when the cyclist hit Jill Tarlov. So, to suggest that dropping the speed limit would somehow make anyone safer is beyond speculative—there is absolutely nothing to suggest that that is the case, that it would make a difference."
Local cyclist Jason James said he's not in favor of a lower speed limit in the city's parks.
"There are very few people on bikes going over 25," James said. "The worst part is the southeast corner because there are so many tourists who don't know what is going on."
Manhattan resident Liz Van Hoose also said that confused tourists are a bigger concern than excessive speeds.
"I feel more endangered by the tourist bicyclists who don't use the bike lanes than by the racing bikes who do use the bike lanes," Van Hoose said.
James also noted that he felt Torlov's death was an isolated incident and that cars pose a bigger threat than cyclists.
"It is interesting that this is proposed after one person gets hit by a bike when so many people get hit by cars every year," James said.
Levine echoed this sentiment, and in the past has expressed the desire to ban cars from Central Park completely.
"Motor vehicles pose a far more deadly threat to pedestrians in parks than bicycles, and that is why I have repeatedly called for Central Park to be made car-free year round," Levine said. "These measures will help ensure that everyone can enjoy our parks safely."