Updated | Owl be damned.
“Barry”, the rock star bird recently profiled by the New York Times, was killed by a driver of the kind of vehicle that kills too many New Yorkers – a pickup truck!
A Central Park Conservancy flack told Streetsblog that the Conservancy staff member driving the maintenance vehicle “was traveling slowly (around 15 mph) using lights and turn signals on West Drive (in low 60) performing maintenance routine of the park when the accidental collision occurred. “
Barred owls are extremely rare, and the circumstances of his death have sparked much speculation online, especially when the Conservancy took many hours to provide information about the incident. The non-profit organization earlier on Friday had released a very analyzed and (for some) Deeply disturbing tweet about the bird’s disappearance:
It is with a heavy heart that we share that a barred owl, a beloved resident of Central Park, passed away early this morning. pic.twitter.com/AYEV0gXZIr
– Central Park (@CentralParkNYC) August 6, 2021
The statement may have sounded soft to some, but its vagueness has upset some street safety activists, such as Senior Strategist and Transportation Alternatives Editor-in-Chief Jessie Singer, who accused the Conservancy of “blaming them. victims “.
note that the conservancy focuses on barry’s behavior (“flying low” “looking for a meal”) and not at all on what the driver of the van was doing, which studies have found to be a very effective way to encourage victim blame and distract from unsafe conditions.https://t.co/iieis08vlB
– Jessie Singer (@jessiesingernyc) August 6, 2021
The park service refused to add any color to the circumstances surrounding the owl’s death. He issued a general statement on automobiles in the park:
“We were sad to hear of this loss of wildlife today,” spokesperson Crystal Howard told us. “We are committed to creating a central car-free park, only minimally allowing the vehicles necessary to operate on roads and paths in order to run and take care of the 840-acre green space and amenities that it contains.”
According to the expert Robert DeCandido, which organizes birding walks in Central Park, “owls unfortunately fly in moving vehicles” and can be struck by vehicles as they pass from one side of the road to the other. He added, however, that “owls do not collide with stationary vehicles, especially at night!” “
The issue of motor vehicles in Central Parks is a delicate one. The city with great fanfare banned cars from Central Park in 2018, after a half-century campaign to wrest the reserve from motorists, who used its roads as a shortcut to cross the city. Despite this, many vehicles of different sizes still ply the streets of the park, including maintenance vehicles, vans, midsize trucks, and private cars owned by police officers who work in the Central Park neighborhood.
The parks department still hasn’t redesigned the hilly roads, which remain striped and marked for cars, confusing many other users including cyclists, pedestrians, inline skates, runners, carts. drawn by horses and pedicabs. An electric cyclist died after colliding with a pedestrian on a park road in 2019. (The pedestrian sustained minor injuries.) The situation has become so chaotic and dangerous that a former city parks commissioner said it was he would no longer ride a bicycle in the green space. Cyclist activists campaigned for a safe route through the park, particularly after a beloved East Side pediatrician was killed by a bus driver as he rode the dangerous crossroads of the park.
Pickup trucks, SUVs and other oversized vehicles account for a growing share of road fatalities in New York City and have contributed to the growing epidemic of road deaths over the past decade.
The Parks Department contracts with the Conservancy, which was formed over 40 years ago, to repair the greensward, for many basic functions. “More than 300 Conservancy employees take care of the complex maintenance, restoration and architectural needs of the park – from horticulture, tree and lawn maintenance, waste management, services to visitors and much more – resulting from massive usage, ”according to the Conservancy website. The group spends “nearly $ 75 million in caring for the park each year for the sole purpose of protecting and improving Central Park in perpetuity.”
This article has been updated with information from Central Park Conservancy.