Press Releases

Press Release #16-040

Scott Gastel/Jose Bayona (212) 839-4850

For Earth Day, NYC DOT and City Council Transportation Chair Rodriguez Celebrate Car Free NYC

Streets will close to vehicular traffic for a four-hour period in three parts of Manhattan

A wide range of activities replaces the rumble of tires

DOT also releases full Weekend Walks 2016 schedule, with over 50 events citywide
New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and New York City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez today celebrated the Car Free NYC efforts launched earlier this year, culminating today with several hours of select Manhattan streets closed to vehicular traffic. Commissioner Trottenberg, Chair Rodriguez and other participants marked the day on a closed section of Broadway adjacent to Broadway Plaza (22nd to 23rd Streets) in Flatiron neighborhood, surrounded by a performance stage, fitness classes, additional seating and other activities planned from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. DOT also released its 2016 schedule for Weekend Walks, which opens major thoroughfares to communities’ own locally-planned programming between May and October this year.

“We at DOT thank Chair Rodriguez for his tremendous leadership for the very first year of Car Free NYC,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.  “Like Summer Streets, Car Free NYC is another fantastic way to get outside and enjoy what is best about our City: its vibrant local communities.  We want to remind New Yorkers that these activities do not end on Earth Day.  From the Grand Concourse in the Bronx to 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, New Yorkers should get out in the months ahead to our Weekend Walks.  While they take in the outdoors in our most valuable public spaces, our streets, we hope they will see them in new and different ways.”

“New Yorkers who choose to drive don’t often think twice about hopping in cars to get around, at least until they’re sitting in the parking lot that is typical midtown traffic,” said NYC Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “This Earth Day, we can choose another way—to work, to school, to run errands or otherwise—and hopefully drive a discussion about how our choices impact our planet and our neighbors. We will see how lively our streets can be when filled with people rather than cars. We can also reaffirm that investments in mass transit pay major dividends from an economic and environmental perspective. I am so proud that this initiative has received the support of so many and we expect to have a real impact on April 22nd.”

The Manhattan areas closed to vehicular traffic today from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. include:

  • New York University – Streets surrounding Washington Square Park, from Waverly Place and West 4th Street to Washington Square West and Broadway.

  • Washington Heights - Wadsworth Avenue from 173rd to 177th Streets.

  • Flatiron - Broadway from 17th to 23rd Streets.
Chair Rodriguez launched the Car Free NYC concept earlier this 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 home for a day and use may of the other viable transportation options available to commute or visit the City on Earth Day.

To underscore the role motorists can play on Earth Day and every day in New York to make it more sustainable, participants highlighted the positive environmental impacts resulting from freeing up streets from vehicles and in turns promoting alternative modes of transportation, such as mass transit and cycling, which Chair Rodriguez, his Council colleagues and the de Blasio Administration seek to improve each day. The high cost of car ownership and the inefficiency of single occupancy vehicle use are also factors making the case for car free days.

“Leaving your car at home is a great way to celebrate Earth Day,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “Councilmember Rodriguez is to be commended for his vision in creating Car Free Day and his dedication to a greener and more sustainable New York City.”

"Car-Free Day is a great way to show our commitment to a greener future on Earth Day," said State Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx). "Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez has demonstrated a deep dedication to better connecting our city, with new and improved transportation options. I look forward to continuing to work with him to better connect our communities to build a greener city."

“I am excited to partner with the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) and my colleague, the Chair of the Committee on Transportation, Ydanis Rodriguez to bring Car Free NYC to my district. Councilmember Rodriguez and DOT have been working very hard to ensure that all New Yorkers are safe, from pedestrians to cyclists to drivers. We will honor Earth Day with a series of events on Broadway near the Flatiron Plaza. It will be a great time for family and friends,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.

“Manhattan is one of the most walkable urban environments on the planet,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Working together, events like Car-Free Day can help us imagine a safer city with more public transportation, more walking, more public space, and cleaner air.”

“Our planet is the only one we have, and all of us have a role to play in preserving it for future generations," said Public Advocate Letitia James. "Any step that reduces carbon emissions brings us one step closer to finally tackling climate change. I look forward to doing my part and participating in Car Free Day on Earth Day, and thank Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez for creating this important initiative.”

“One of our core values at Go Green Ride since launching just a few short years ago is to treat every day like Earth Day, which is why our entire fleet of vehicles are 100 percent hybrids and why we are proud to partner with Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez for Car Free NYC Day,” said Go Green Ride CEO Yamandou Alexander.  “To encourage locals and visitors to consider a more environmentally friendly form of transportation, we are offering a special discount code to anyone opting to take a ride with us on Friday.”

"At Citi Bike, we're excited to offer free rides for Earth Day with our partners at Mastercard," said Jay Walder, President and CEO of Motivate, Citi Bike's parent company. "Last year alone Citi Bike offset over 4000 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of planting over 100,000 seedlings and letting them grow for ten years. And the system is doubling in size by 2017, giving even more New Yorkers access to this healthy and sustainable way to travel." 

"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 has created Car Free Day NYC," said Ken Podziba, President and CEO of Bike New York. "New York has the highest percentage of car-free households in the country so this great day is certainly appropriate; and we commend the efforts of all involved for helping to reduce car use in New York, thereby making our city healthier, safer, cleaner, less congested, and more environmentally friendly." 

"This year's Car Free NYC Earth Day is just the beginning, and we look forward to seeing this exciting event expand to cover more of the City in the coming years," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "We thank Council Member Rodriguez, Commissioner Trottenberg and Motivate CEO Walder for helping New York join other visionary cities that are proving that urban living is safer, healthier and more fun when more street space is dedicated to people, rather than private cars."

"The majority of New York City households are car-free, but unfortunately the automobile has become an overwhelming presence on our streets,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool. “Car-Free Day represents an opportunity to remind New Yorkers of the impact that cars and trucks -- the region's primary source of greenhouse gas emissions -- have on the air we breathe and in the neighborhoods where we live."

“As a car free citizen heading up a car free enterprise year round, Hornblower New York understands the powerful potential our waterways have to connect communities and also reduce our carbon footprint,” said Cameron Clark, VP and General Manager of Hornblower New York.  “The Car Free Pledge Council Member Rodriguez is asking our city to take highlights his passion for public transportation and his commitment to a more sustainable New York.  We are proud to be part of the campaign and to hopefully put more people on boats this Earth Day and beyond.”

“New York City continues to be a leader in biking and sustainability with more than one thousand miles of bike lanes, tons of park land ripe for exploring and cycling infrastructure that encourages bike ridership and recreation,” said Chris Wogas, President of Bike and Roll New York City.  “Bike and Roll is proud to support Council Member Rodriguez’s Car Free NYC Day and the more people we can get on a bike, the more environmentally efficient we’ll be.”

In place of vehicles, Car Free NYC Sponsors will be offering a wide variety of programming at these locations from music performances and fitness classes. At the Flatiron location, NYC DOT will be holding a bicycle helmet fitting, Athleta will be giving fitness classes, Vita Coco will offer a giveaway and the Uni Project will run a reading room throughout the four hour event.

Citi Bike will also offer a day of free rides for every New Yorker today in partnership with MasterCard to celebrate the City’s first Earth Day with a car-free component. To claim the free ride, people can visit, provide a name and valid email address, and will be emailed a code to redeem your free ride at any Citi Bike station. 

Weekend Walks, in its eighth year, engages local communities by closing major thoroughfares and opening them up for locally-planned programming.  Between May 1 and October 15, 2016 the Department of Transportation (DOT) will be coordinating over fifty separate weekend events around New York City, partnering with 65 different community-based organizations to cover over 100 days of car-free events 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.  Restaurants abutting Weekend Walks are allowed to offer outdoor café service, without any additional permits or fees.

Highlights of this year’s Weekend Walks include:

  • Boogie On the Boulevard (Bronx)
On the Grand Concourse in the Bronx from 162nd Street to 165th
5/29 and 6/26, 12pm-4pm
Grand Concourse from 162nd Street to 167th  Street
7/31 and 6/26, 12pm-4pm

  • Long Island City Springs (Queens)
Vernon Boulevard (Queens) from 51st Avenue to 45th Road
5/14, 5/21, 12pm-5pm

  • Hamilton Heights / Sugar Hill Cultural Festival (Manhattan)
Hamilton Plaza (Harlem, Manhattan) from W.142nd St. to W.144th St.
W143rd Street from Amsterdam to W.144th St.
5/7, 6/11 and 7/16, 11am – 6:30pm

  • Third Avenue Brooklyn Summer Stroll (Brooklyn)
Third Avenue (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn) from 80th St. to 90th St.
7/15 and 8/5, 5pm-10:30pm
Third Avenue from Bay Ridge Ave. to 80th Street.
7/22 and 8/12, 5pm-10:30pm

  • Cortelyou Comes Alive (Brooklyn)
Cortelyou Rd. (Flatbush, Brooklyn) from Coney Island Ave. to E. 17th Street
8/13 and 8/20, 6pm – 11pm