So it’s appropriate that New York City is celebrating Earth Day with its largest-ever Car-Free Earth Day.
“Earth Day is when we can all commit to protecting our Earth – and one way we can do that is by repurposing our roadways,” NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced in a press release Thursday. “Car-Free Earth Day is a growing tradition that allows New York City’s car-free streets to come alive.”
Ydanis first started Car-Free Earth Day in 2016 when he served as NYC Council Transportation Chair. The first year’s event took place only in Manhattan. Certain streets were closed to car traffic to encourage people to walk, cycle and gather instead. The tradition grew, but was put on pause for two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year will mark its return on April 23, the Saturday after Earth Day on April 22, and it is coming back bigger than ever. It will link more than 100 streets and 22 plazas in all five boroughs.
“The last two years – of Open Streets, Open Restaurants, the surge in cycling and so much more — have only made us appreciate even more how much better we must treat Mother Earth — and a day without cars allows us to envision a more sustainable world for more than just one day,” Rodriguez said in the release.
The streets won’t just be getting rid of cars, they will be replacing them with programming including musical and dance performances, exercise classes, workshops and family-friendly games, AMNY reported.
“We encourage all New Yorkers to embrace the streets and imagine what could be possible if we opened our streets for more than just moving personal vehicles,” Rodriguez said at a Times Square press conference, as AMNY reported.
So on Saturday, April 23, New York’s can step off the sidewalk in one of the following locations:
- Bronx, Roberto Clemente Plaza, 3rd Avenue, 148th Street to 149th Street
- Bronx, Southbound Mosholu Parkway, Van Cortlandt Avenue East to Bainbridge Avenue
- Brooklyn, Tompkins Avenue, Gates Avenue to Halsey Street
- Manhattan, Avenue B, East 6th Street to East 14th Street
- Manhattan, Broadway, East 17th Street to West 42nd Street
- Manhattan, St. Nicholas Avenue, 181st Street to 190th Street
- Queens, 34th Avenue, 69th Street to 94th Street
- Staten Island, Minthorne Street, Bay Street to Victory Boulevard
The day will also launch the city’s Open Streets program for the year, Gothamist reported. Open Streets are streets that choose to restrict car access to create public space and run programming, according to the DOT. Interested parties can apply to the DOT to manage an Open Street in their community.
One example is 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens.
“What a great way to celebrate Car-Free Earth Day and honor the environment by highlighting DOT’s open streets program!” Jim Burke of the 34th Ave Open Street Coalition said in the DOT release. “Our open street, 34 Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, has become a community center, performance space, an outdoor classroom, a gym, and a micro mobility corridor all rolled into one.”