New York City to make 53 streets car-free for Earth Day

Dozens of streets across New York City will go car-free for a single day later this month as part of the local transportation department’s annual Earth Day celebration.

Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said on Tuesday that the event will be the biggest to date, with drivers getting the boot from sections of 53 streets between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. That’s up from 30 car-free streets during last year’s event, and the closures will last an hour longer than in previous years.

“Car-free day is about celebrating Mother Earth,” Rodriguez said at a news conference. “We encourage all New Yorkers on this day and as many days as possible to leave their vehicles at home and opt to more sustainable modes of transportation like transit, biking or walking.”

Major areas where cars will be banned include Broadway in Manhattan from Union Square to Times Square; Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn between 40th and 45th streets; and Woodside Avenue in Queens from 75th to 78th streets. The Department of Transportation has a full list of the closures on its website.

The agency will also host performances, art installations and other programming along some of the streets closed to traffic. Meanwhile, Citi Bike will offer free 30-minute rentals across the city during the event, which can be redeemed by using the promotional code “CARFREE24.”

City officials began restricting traffic on streets for Earth Day in 2016. The event has since become an annual tradition where New Yorkers can bike or walk along streets that are normally cluttered with cars.

Ken Podziba, the CEO of advocacy group Bike New York, said he’s happy the car restrictions have expanded since their launch eight years ago.

“Back then there was just a few streets on Broadway in the Flatiron District, a few streets in Washington Heights and a few streets in NYU … and look at us now,” Podziba said. “I knew it was going to grow.”

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