UPPER WEST SIDE — Central Park bicyclists have hit 35 people so far this year while only one person was hit by a car, a top police official said.
The lone car crash occurred on May 12 about 8 a.m. at West Drive and West 67th Street and the pedestrian suffered only a minor foot injury, according to Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey, commanding officer of the Central Park precinct.
In the 35 bike collisions, however, the crashes between pedestrians and cyclists led to two pedestrian deaths and three fractured skulls, Corey told Community Board 7 members Monday night at a meeting about Central Park street safety.
In recent months, a 59-year-old mother was killed by a cyclist along West Drive near West 62nd Street and a 75-year-old male jogger was killed by a cyclist near the East Drive Loop at East 72nd Street, sparking concern among residents about the safety of pedestrians and runners using the park's roadways.
Corey would not go into more detail about this year's crashes, nor the injuries sustained by cyclists, but she said they happened at all times of the day.
Several crashes happened in the early morning, about 6 a.m., when there's a perception that there are fewer walkers in the park, she added.
The precinct is trying to curb crashes by educating cyclists and pedestrians about the park's traffic lights and by handing out summonses to cyclists, Corey said. Officers are particularly focused on cyclists who fail to yield to pedestrians and run red lights, she said.
"We've issued more than 800 summonses [to cyclists] for the year," she said.
But police typically don't know if a bike is speeding because judging cycle speed is difficult unless someone is recorded with a radar gun, Corey explained.
The hot spots for cyclist-pedestrian crashes include West Drive in the West 70s and near East 72nd Street along East Drive, she noted.
Though only one car has been involved in a collision this year, Community Board 7 members said they see a car-less Central Park as a potential solution to the crashes because it would give cyclists and pedestrians each more space in their respective lanes.
"I like the idea of trying to introduce more of a separation between the users," said board member Meisha Hunter.
City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal has proposed a bill calling for a trial car-free Central Park from June through September next year, followed by a DOT study of how that affected surrounding traffic patterns.