Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #17-027

Contact: Scott Gastel/Gloria Chin (212) 839-4850

On Earth Day, NYC DOT and City Council Transportation Chair Rodriguez Celebrate Car Free NYC Along Broadway in Midtown and on St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights

Today, two miles of major Manhattan streets are open only to pedestrians and cyclists from 10am to 4pm

DOT's Weekend Walks car-free programming also kicks off today in Morrisania, Astoria, Woodside and Brooklyn Heights

Standing on a car-free Broadway in the Flatiron District near Madison Square, New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and New York City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez celebrated Earth Day with a second year of Car Free NYC. At this year’s event, more streets are open only to pedestrian and bicycle traffic -- including Broadway from Union Square to Times Square and along St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights. DOT’s Weekend Walks programming also kicks off today, featuring car free community-based events in four different neighborhoods outside Manhattan.

“Car Free NYC is a great idea that has gotten even bigger this year, both here in Midtown and up in Washington Heights,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Along with Weekend Walks hosted by community partners in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, Earth Day is the perfect time to sustainably celebrate our great City -- on bike and on foot. With so much to do on a great spring day, I encourage New Yorkers to get out today and really enjoy themselves.”

"Car Free Day is back in a big way this year. I’m so glad to see even more streets open to people instead of clogged with cars," said City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "We're encouraging New Yorkers to leave their cars at home for the day and commute by bike, bus, train or walking. Moving more sustainably can seriously reduce our impact on the environment and the one planet we have. I'm proud to see an expansion in Car Free Day, especially uptown, so that our many residents and community organizations can celebrate open streets."

Chair Rodriguez launched the Car Free NYC concept last year, as he formed a coalition of dozens of elected officials, companies, advocacy groups and institutions to support a campaign asking New Yorkers to leave their cars at home on Earth Day -- and use other viable transportation options that day. A range of sponsors and other partners are joining this year’s effort, including Citi Bike, which is offering free one-day passes.

Car Free NYC: The Manhattan areas closed to vehicular traffic today from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. are:
Broadway, from Union Square to Times Square: In 2016, Car Free NYC covered only six blocks of Broadway but this year has expanded to thirty blocks. Programming along Broadway will include dance performances, fitness classes, music performances, children’s activities, giveaways, cycling events, educational programming and more – all in partnership with the Times Square Alliance, Garment District Alliance, 34th Street Partnership, Flatiron Partnership and Union Square Partnership.
  • Athletes of all skill sets can participate in fitness and dance classes sponsored by Paragon Sport, Atheleta, Spin, Movement Creative, 305 Fitness and DanceSport and even grab a Vita Coco coconut water afterwards.
  • Musical performances by The Pit, The Poor Cousins, Evan Nachimson, Hye-Jeung Kang, BumbleBee Jamboree, Batala NY and Marching Cobras will liven the spaces along the way, dance enthusiasts can enjoy the works of Project Dance, Gibney Dance,
  • The Hoop Movement and Dancing Classrooms, history buffs can enjoy historical walking tours lead by the Municipal Art Society and historical bike tours lead by Loudest Yeller.
  • Environmental activists can learn more about sustainability through workshops and demos lead by several other city agencies or hear from several nonprofit organizations’ such as Trees NY, Earth Initiative, Climate Museum, NYC Community Garden Coalition, Trust for Public Land, Appalachian Mountain Club, Discover Outdoors Foundation, Brooklyn Boulders Foundation, Transportation Alternatives, Design Trust for Public Space, New Yorkers for Parks, Bike New York and inTandem.
  • Arts and crafts workshops will be led by LEAP, Manhattan Graphic Center, Materials for the Arts and Urban Studio Unbound, as well as individual artists Jessica Maffia, Jarret Stahl, Umberto Squarcia, Jennifer Cecere, Chat Travieso and Kirk Finkel or traverse an art walk designed by artist Hung Yi. Fifty temporary art signs designed by artist Ben O’Brien with environmentally themed imagery and facts will also adorn the route.

St. Nicholas Avenue from 181st Street to 190th Street:
St. Nicholas Avenue will be similarly open for the public to enjoy activities provided by the Washington Heights Business Improvement District and other partners -- including Big Brother Big Sister, New York Restoration Project, Literacy Inc, MetroHealth Plus, Armory Foundation, Carnegie Hall, Operation Exodus, Sugar Hill Children's Museum, City Harvest, United Palace of Cultural Arts, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, Community League of the Heights, and more.

Weekend Walks: Today, DOT also kicks off its 10th annual season of Weekend Walks with four simultaneous events happening in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Queens. Weekend Walks are car free events where community based organizations apply to close multiple blocks of a commercial street and provide active programing that promotes walking, cycling and local businesses. Weekend Walks are planned for more than 60 different locations throughout the five boroughs from April to December, starting with the four below.
  • The Bronx, 12pm-4pm, Save Our Streets (SOS) Law Day w/ SOS South Bronx
    Eagle Ave. From E.161 St. to E. 163 St., Morrisania
  • Brooklyn, 11:30am-4pm, Montague Weekend Walks w/ Montague Street BID
    Montague St. from Court St. to Pierrepont Pl., Brooklyn Heights
  • Queens, 11:30am-7pm, Songkran Weekend Walks w/ Thai Community USA
    Woodside Avenue from 75th to 77th St., Woodside
  • Queens, 9am-5pm, Earth Day Shore Fest w/ Astoria Park Alliance
    Shore Blvd. from Ditmars Blvd. to Astoria Park S., Astoria

"As we celebrate Earth Day, we must think about the harsh realities of human-induced climate change that are threatening our planet,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Car Free NYC and Weekend Walks are an opportunity for New Yorkers to make simple, but effective, changes in our everyday behavior that will improve the future of our City and our earth for generations to come. We all have a responsibility to ensure that the planet we pass on to our children and grandchildren is healthy and thriving."

“Manhattan is one of the most walkable urban environments on the planet, but when we reclaim our streets with events like Car-Free Day, we see just how much more is possible,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “These events give us a real-life vision of the future: a safer city with more public transportation, more walking, more public space, and cleaner air.”

“Car Free NYC is a great way to encourage environmentally sustainable modes of transportation across New York City,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I want to give thanks to Council Member Rodriguez and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for their leadership on this issue. As we mark Earth Week 2017, we need to think of new ways of getting around our city that are healthy for the mind, body, and soul, as well as for the environment we share. Let’s think outside the box about getting from place to place; what better way to start than by going car-free?”

“Car Free Day NYC is an excellent way to celebrate Earth Day and encourage residents to choose alternative means to get around the city,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “It is also a great way to address traffic congestion throughout the city by encouraging commuters to utilize alternate methods of mass transit and other sustainable modes of transportation throughout the day. Car Free Day NYC is good for the environment, commuter health, and benefits each of us.”

"I am very glad that the tradition of Car Free Day is taking root in our city. Limiting greenhouse gases is an urgent priority for me and for all New York City residents as we grapple with the initial effects of global climate change,” said Senator Marisol Alcantara. “By turning our streets into walkable space, we build community with our neighbors while at the same time showing our commitment to environmental sustainability. I hope that Car Free Day continues for many years and that New Yorkers of the future will look forward to Earth Day for the serenity, community, and safety it brings to normally busy streets."

“It’s great Earth Day news that the Transportation Department is expanding its efforts to encourage New Yorkers to go car-free. By growing the ‘Weekend Walks’ program and increasing the number of car-free zones on Earth Day – including Broadway between Union Square and Times Square, in my Assembly District – New York City is inspiring New Yorkers to imagine a healthier and more livable city,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, "I look forward to enjoying the Weekend Walk on Shore Boulevard with the Astoria Park Alliance for Shore Fest this Earth Day. We will enjoy spending time on the street and our waterfront, while promoting sustainable habits and community togetherness. As chair of the Council's Environmental Protection Committee, I am proud to encourage environmentally-friendly habits on Shore Boulevard as well as other Weekend Walk and car free events across the city in honor of Earth Day. Thank you to DOT Commissioner Trottenberg and our community partners including the Astoria Park Alliance for leading this effort."

"Car Free NYC is a fun and innovative way to encourage New Yorkers to get out and enjoy their city," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "This event provides pedestrians and cyclists an opportunity to traverse our city streets without vehicular traffic. It helps foster a greener, safer and more sustainable New York City. I join the NYC DOT and NYC Council Transportation Chair Rodriguez in celebrating year two of this exciting program."

"As New York City’s leading proponent of cycling as a practical, sustainable, and healthy means of transportation and recreation, we at Bike New York are thrilled that the City of New York is expanding Car Free Day NYC this year," said Ken Podziba, President and CEO of Bike New York. "We're also very excited about the announcement of our first full-time Shared Street and look forward to the 10th year of Weekend Walks. New York has the highest percentage of car-free households in the country, and as more and more people are using bikes as a means of transportation, these great initiatives draw attention to the progress the city is making to reduce car use in New York, thereby making our city healthier, safer, cleaner, less congested, and more environmentally friendly. We commend the efforts of all involved, with a special ring of our bike bells in support of DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYC Transportation Chair Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez for their leadership."

"Car Free NYC is where rubber meets the road on NYC's 80 x 50 greenhouse gas reduction pledge. By leaving your car at home today on Earth Day, you're doing your part to help cut your carbon footprint, while also sending a message to lawmakers that we must prioritize walkable, bike-able streets and a robust, well-maintained transit network," said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "NYLCV is proud to take the Car Free NYC pledge and encourage all New Yorkers to pause and think about how they can make greener transportation choices. We thank DOT and Council Member Rodriguez for their leadership on this initiative."

“New York is a greener, safer city than ever before, and we are proud that Citi Bike has played a role,” said Jay Walder, President & CEO of Motivate, operators of Citi Bike company. “We have a lot more to do—including bringing more Citi Bikes to more New Yorkers across the City. We thank Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez & Commissioner Trottenberg for their environmental leadership and their tireless advocacy for bike share. This Earth Day we invite all New Yorkers to go green by going blue and give Citi Bike a try.”

"Thanks to Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and the Department of Transportation for showing New York City that a car-free future can happen sooner rather than later, if only we can summon the political will,” said John Raskin, Executive Director, Riders Alliance. “One key thing we need to reduce car traffic is to offer New Yorkers a safe, reliable alternative, which is why a new round of investment in public transportation is so essential. An environmentally sustainable future will require a modern and accessible public transit network. Once our elected leaders understand that, millions of daily commuters will be far better off. We appreciate Council Member Rodriguez and the DOT bringing us closer to that moment."

"It's exciting that more communities are getting to experience Car Free NYC this year and that the City is continuing to expand the event that Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez launched," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "More and more New Yorkers are getting a chance to see that their lives can become more safe, healthy and fun when more street space is dedicated to walking, biking and public transit."

Today, for Earth Day, Citi Bike is offering a day of free rides for every New Yorker in partnership with MasterCard to celebrate. People can visit CitiBikeNYC.com/earthday, and get information about how to get a code to unlock free rides.

Weekend Walks are multi-block, multi-day events on commercial corridors that promote the use of streets as public space. Now in its 10th year, starting on Earth Day and continuing into December. DOT will be working with 58 community partners to coordinate events in almost sixty locations around New York City, providing over 120 days of car-free programming on 26 miles of City streets. Each Weekend Walk is organized and hosted by a local partner and features a number of activities including music, arts and crafts, classes, and youth programming. Weekend Walks highlight local cultural institutions, non-profits, and community resources. The events promote healthy, safe recreation as well as local businesses, and create high-quality public space where community members can come together.

For more information about Weekend Walks, visit www.nyc.gov/weekendwalks

Map of Car Free Earth Day 2017
Map of Car Free Earth Day 2017

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