When Pope Francis was in New York last week, he took a drive up through Central Park. Part of the security for this involved closing off basically all the Upper West Side streets between Columbus and Central Park West, including requiring everyone to remove their cars. The result was a blessing, as the neighborhood was even nicer than normal because it was car free.
The picture above shows a street sans parked cars. I don’t think traffic should permanently be banned, but look at the amount of space given over to parked cars. Both curb lanes – 2/3 of the street right of way – is normally taken up by parked cars. Some of these are metered, and I’ve got no problem with that. Street parking should be for deliveries, patronizing a business, visiting someone, etc.
But as near as I can tell, most of these spots are normally occupied by neighbors who own cars and simply park them on the street for free. Are you kidding me? Owning a car makes sense in a lot of places, but the Upper West Side isn’t one of them. And if you do want to own one, it should be stored in a private parking space.
If even one of these lanes was taken away from parked cars, there are a lot of better things it could be used for: more landscaping, wider sidewalks, etc. Devoting this much precious Manhattan real estate to free parking spots just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Thanks to the Pope, we got a glimpse of the possibility of what could be if we weren’t so wedded to the idea of free on street parking in Manhattan.