April 3, 2023
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NYC DOT to Kick off Open Streets Season With Largest-Ever Celebration of Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day
On the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day, on Saturday, April 22nd, seven signature and 23 community-organized Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day locations will feature community programming
Citi Bike will offer free one-day passes to all riders
New York — New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez was joined today in Times Square by community partners, advocates, and elected officials to announce programming for the largest-ever celebration of Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day – an annual event hosted by NYC DOT to promote activism and education surrounding climate change, sustainability, and more sustainable modes of transportation. This year's celebration, to be held on Saturday, April 22nd, will include seven signature event locations and 23 community produced locations featuring programming that includes performances, fitness trainings, giveaways, and educational activities.
"Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day is about encouraging New Yorkers to leave their vehicles at home and enjoying our city's parks, plazas, and expanded network of Open Streets," said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. "This celebration offers an opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy activities at dozens of locations in communities around New York City. It also serves as a reminder that we only have one planet -- and we must all do our part to reduce our carbon footprint and pay homage to the one beautiful planet we have."
Through the support of Lyft, on Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day, Citi Bike will offer unlimited 30-minute rides on a classic Citi Bike for 24 hours. Riders can take advantage of the offer by using the promo code CARFREE23 in the Citi Bike app.
First launched in 2016, Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day originally converted select Manhattan streets into public plazas and car-free streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and local businesses. The event has since expanded to include 30 locations located throughout the five boroughs, connecting over 80 open streets, plazas, and accessing over 1,000 miles of New York City's bike network.
Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day kicks off NYC DOT's 2023 Open Streets and Public Space Programming season. In 2023, NYC DOT is excited to work alongside community partners to execute Open Streets and programming in all five boroughs. The first set of 2023 Open Streets and Public Space Programming events will be announced on Earth Day, with more sites and events to be announced later in the year. This season includes support for partners through the Public Space Equity Program, more formal infrastructure reflecting Open Street operations (e.g. parking regulation changes), and permanent changes to the streetscape at successful Open Streets sites.
Signature event locations are listed below and the additional 23 community-organized locations can be found at nyc.gov/carfreenyc:
Route: Broadway to La Marina
Programming Highlights: Dyckman Gardens to provide performances, Hudson River Community Sailing, Uptown Soccer, DOT Safety Education, Bameso, 511 Rideshare, Creative Art Works, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, People's Theatre Project, NYC Parks Canoe & Kayak Club, art making activities by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Lyft / Citi Bike.
St. Nicholas Avenue
Route: 181st Street to 190th Street
Programming Highlights: Washington Heights Business Improvement District, DCAS Fleet, DOT Bike Unit, Empire Clean Cities, Lotus Music and Dance, Jazz Power Initiative, Van Cortlandt Titans Youth Football Program, Inc., Riverstone Senior Life Services, Marching Cobras, Citizens' Climate Lobby, Bike New York, Collective for Arts, Music & Dance, Margaret V. Fitness, Fogo Azul, and Armory Foundation.
Route: East 17th Street to West 42nd Street
Programming Highlights: Times Square Alliance, Broadway Green Alliance, 34th Street Partnership, Flatiron NoMad Partnership, and Union Square Partnership.
Open Streets Partner: Bushwick Foundation for Artists and Merchants
Route: St. Nicholas Avenue to Irving Avenue
Programming Highlights: Carter Van Pelt, Duane Harriot, Ayanna Heaven, L Train Brass Band, Dream Factory, Parks Wildlife, 511 Rideshare, Empire Clean Cities, Clean Bushwick Initiative, Horticultural Society of New York.
Open Streets Partner: Thai Community USA
Route: 76th Street to 79th Street
Programming Highlights: Horticultural Society of New York, Queensboro Dance, 511 Rideshare, Zing! For Kids, Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, NYC Commission on Human Rights, Metro Plus Health, NYCDOT, Mayor's Office of Public Engagement, Civic Engagement Commission, DSNY Compost.
Willis Avenue & Roberto Clemente Plaza
Open Streets Partner: Third Ave BID
Route: 147th Street to 148th Street
Programming Highlights: Salsa Stories, Silver Shoes Dance, Horticultural Society of New York, Orisha Wholeness, 511 Rideshare, NYCDOT Bike Unit, Get Women Cycling.
Open Streets Partner: Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and The Angiuli Group
Route: Bay Street to Victory Boulevard
Programming Highlights: Citizens Climate Committee, Kuki, Maker Park Radio, One Big Table (Street Lab w/ WNYC), Get Women Cycling, Skyz The Limit.
Additional Open Street Locations can be found here: nyc.gov/carfreenyc
"Car-free day has quickly become a valued New York City tradition, and we are proud to participate and support efforts to reduce emissions," said NYC DCAS Commissioner Dawn M. Pinnock. "We applaud the work our colleagues at the Department of Transportation are doing to make our streets safer and our environment more sustainable, and look forward to continued partnership."
"Since its inception, the Open Streets program has demonstrated how much more connected our communities can become when we prioritize people over private car travel," said U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler. "Car-Free Earth Day is the perfect opportunity for New Yorkers to join their neighbors outdoors and enjoy all the City has to offer while making more sustainable choices for our shared future."
"I'm thrilled to see NYC DOT celebrate their largest ever 'Car-Free Earth Day' this year, with programming like free bike rides and car-free routes that promote sustainable modes of transportation," said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. "Our state is at risk of falling behind our aggressive climate goals set out by the CLCPA, our state's green new deal. We must do everything in our power to address the climate crisis and to create a future free of fossil fuels, and Car-Free Earth Day is just one fantastic reminder of what we can do to protect our planet."
"Car Free Earth Day is a commitment to creating safer streets and a reminder of the public spaces our city has to offer," said Council Member Shekar Krishnan. "As the Open Streets in my district show, pedestrianized streets are safe streets. Car Free spaces are vital to protecting our children from car crashes and climate change. Thank you Commissioner Rodriguez and the Department of Transportation for their partnership in this effort and their vision for reimagining our streets."
"It's important that we educate our communities on climate change and sustainability, while also providing accessible transportation and pathways for our seniors and people with disabilities," said Council Member Marjorie Velazquez. "The Car-Free Earth Day initiative is an opportunity to bring the experience of what life could be like without cars in our city. This is a time to celebrate the beauty of our planet while also taking steps to preserve it and support our communities."
"Over 5 million customers ride on MTA public transit every day across the metropolitan area -- a climate-friendly network that is responsible for reducing the region's greenhouse gas emissions by 17 million metric tons," said MTA Acting Chief Customer Officer Shanifah Rieara. "We look forward to supporting Car Free Earth Day and reminding New Yorkers that mass transit isn't just the fastest and easiest way to get around, it's also the greenest."
"Car Free Earth Day demonstrates the City's commitment to rethinking our streetscape and growing interest in healthy, clean transportation options like Citi Bike," said Anna Pycior, Senior Policy Manager for Transit, Bikes, and Scooters at Lyft. "We are grateful to Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez for their commitment to rethinking how we use public space and the investments being made to improve bike-friendly infrastructure across the city."
"Car-Free Earth Day is a shining example of how much safer, healthier, and more vibrant the city can be when our streets are reclaimed for people," said Ken Podziba, President and CEO of Bike New York. "We applaud Commissioner Rodriguez for his vision and leadership and for ensuring the continuation and expansion of this important day - that he launched in 2016 - where these streets of New York come alive."
"Car Free Earth Day shows the benefits of Open Streets, and the importance of providing them with resources, support, and permanent infrastructure so they can thrive in every neighborhood," said Juan Restrepo, Senior Organizer at Transportation Alternatives. "Not only are car-free streets good for our climate, but car-free streets significantly reduce traffic violence too. Car-free streets must be an integral part of Vision Zero as well as our NYC 25x25 vision to reprioritize streets for people."
"The Washington Heights Business Improvement District (WHBID), along with the NYC DOT is happy to host the 2023 Car Free Day in Washington Heights. This year, along with the NYC DOT Commissioner, we will host a broad coalition of local community stakeholders presenting cultural performances, face painting, information, arts & craft and many more. This initiative aims to encourage city drivers to leave their cars at home, asking that they choose a more efficient way to travel to work, school or elsewhere. This Earth Day you can go car free, ride your bike, take public transportation, or carpool. The NYC Car Free Day was first introduced (by then Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez) in Northern Manhattan in 2016 and we are proud to see that this has now grown to be a city-wide event," said Isidro Medina, Executive Director for the Washington Heights BID.
"On behalf of the Minthorne Open Street, we are excited to be partnering with the Department of Transportation to bring "Car-Free Earth Day" to Staten Island for the second year in a row. We are grateful for the DOT's continued support with the "Open Streets Program", which has been a huge win for small business in New York City. We look forward to kicking off Open Streets with Car-Free Earth Day and to bringing more exciting programming to our Staten Island community this season," said Skye Wright, Operations Manager, The Angiuli Group LLC.
"We want to see this diverse neighborhood freely engage in an environmentally friendly elevated public space where people can feel inspired by their neighbors and simply have a good time getting to know them," said Patrick Noecker, one of the Troutman Open Street's founding members, "and to know your local businesses, artists and non-profits and all the good they're up to strengthens the concept of community."
"This Car Free Earth Day we welcome New Yorkers and visitors to celebrate by playing outdoor ping pong with pros from SPIN New York 23 in the Flatiron Public Plazas at the iconic intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street," said James Mettham, President of the Flatiron NoMad Partnership. "In our district, innovative public realm projects like the Plazas, Shared Streets, and NoMad Piazza have created safe, accessible, and inviting spaces for walking, bicycling, and outdoor dining. Building on these successes, this spring we look forward to working with our City partners to complete the next phase of the people-first Broadway Vision program from 25th to 32nd Street in NoMad."
"The Loisaida Open Streets Community Coalition (LOSCC) is pleased to partner with DOT, Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens (LUNGS) and FABnyc on this year's Car-Free Earth Day! Two blocks of the Ave B Open Street adjacent to Tompkins Square Park will be transformed into a fantastic car-free experience, hosting free kids' pony rides from the Black Cowboys of Brooklyn, a Hawk Nest Tour from NYC Park Rangers, workshops and performances from local artists. Ave B is the place to be!" Said Laura Sewell, Co-Founder, Loisaida Open Streets.
"Much like other great cities around the world, New York City wants to not only return these important public realm spaces back to the public for their enjoyment while increasing safety and supporting communities recovering from the pandemic - especially in the Chinatown impact zone area," said Wellington Chen, Executive Director, Chinatown Partnership.
"Over the past few years, we have seen 31st Avenue transform as a result of the Open Street program, into a vibrant and bustling gathering place for the community on the weekends," said John Surico, a member of the 31st Ave Open Street Collective and a longtime Astoria resident. "As a third-year volunteer, it brings me a lot of joy to see our street used as a place for kids to learn to ride bikes, for dog owners to meet up, or for up-and-coming performers to find an audience. The program brings our neighbors together and I'm thrilled about what we have in store this year."
"We're excited to begin our fourth season of Vanderbilt Avenue and Underhill Avenue Open Streets on Earth Day weekend," said Gib Veconi, Chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. "Celebrating car-free streets with our Open Streets colleagues demonstrates the potential for re-imagined public spaces in New York City."
"As Fordham University launches a community-driven Green Plan that informs every part of our campus work, we applaud the New York City Department of Transportation and Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez in this innovative and inspiring Open Streets celebration! Our students love to participate in community-led street activations in the Bronx - it makes them feel at home in this dynamic and beautiful borough. We hope to leverage the energy from this powerful event to support our campus to become less car-reliant and our community members toward more thoughtful everyday choices that impact our community and our city," said Julie L. Gafney, PhD, AVP for Strategic Mission Priorities & Chair of Fordham University Sustainability Council, Fordham University.
"At Jazz Power Initiative we are delighted to be back at Car-Free Earth Day and continue the partnership as a jazz organization with the Department of Transportation on events of this importance to society. We would like to recognize the work during all these years by Commissioner Rodriguez, since his time in City Council to now at the DOT, advocating continually for the arts and performances, as well as securing spaces and encounters -like Car-Free Earth Day, that help bring awareness to the community on such important matters like climate change and best practices towards mother earth. Let us continue the needed work as a team where all involved take the necessary steps towards a better present and future, acting with proactivity, consciousness, respect and unity!" Said Eli Yamin, Managing and Artistic Director Jazz Power Initiative.
"As DOT's partner in maintaining and programming open streets and plazas in middle and high need communities, The Hort applauds Times Square for its engagement in Car-Free Earth Day, ensuring that all New Yorkers can safely enjoy the crossroads of the world in the original urban public plaza!" Said Sara Hobel Executive Director of the Horticultural Society of NY.
"Take the "1" train to 181 Street and have a ball at a free youth football clinic hosted by the Van Cortlandt Titans on Car-Free Earth Day!" Said Mitch Gershonowitz, Secretary-Treasurer for the Van Cortlandt Titans Youth Football Program.
"Participating in the Open Streets program is an incredible opportunity for our organization to share important information about clean transportation in a fun and engaging way. People of all ages loved checking out the electric school bus display, seeing how it plugs in, and learning about pollution-free vehicles in New York City. We can't wait to kick off the 2023 season with Car Free Earth Day!" Said Lauren Kesner O'Brien, Policy and Partnerships Manager, Empire Clean Cities.
"Creative Art Works is proud to participate in the DOT Car-Free Day events. Our art-making activities there invite young NYC residents and their families to creatively explore the ways we engage in community and claim our public spaces," said Karen Jolicoeur, Executive Director, Creative Art Works.
"We're so excited to be able to be a part of Car-Free Earth Day here in East Harlem. The Open Street adjacent to the historic La Marqueta creates safe space for pedestrians, making it easier to walk between the different blocks of the market, and also provides open space for dining, so you can enjoy meals from the growing list of market vendors inside. Come visit on Earth Day for recycled artmaking and more!" Said Carey King, Director, Uptown Grand Central.
"The best way to celebrate Earth Day is to leave your car at home and explore the city's Open Streets with your family on foot or by bicycle. It's a great way to immerse yourself in a neighborhood because they have become our town squares and safe places for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages. In Jackson Heights, the 34 Avenue Open Streets spans 26 blocks and gives us the space to share and celebrate each other's cultures and build community while also serving as a micro-mobility corridor," said Jim Burke, Co-founder 34th Avenue Open Street Coalition.
"Silver Shoes Dance Club is excited to be offering a Ballroom and Latin dance class at Roberto Clemente Plaza for adults over 55 as well as their friends and family as part of Open Streets: Car Free Earth Day. See you on the dance floor!" Said Daniela Del Giorno, Founding Director at Silver Shoes Dance Club.
"Every day should be Car-Free Earth Day on Paseo Park. We are pleased to partner with the DOT to engage our community in play and outreach. Together we can create a green space that will be enjoyed for generations to come, while mitigating the effects of climate change," said Luz Maria Mercado, Friends of 34th Avenue Linear Park, Jackson Heights.