NYC Plans Its First (Optional) Car-Free Earth Day

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Earth Day is still more than a month away—plenty of time for New Yorkers to consider participating in a one-day, strongly-encouraged but obviously voluntary ban on driving.

Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez announced the April 22nd plan at NYU on Wednesday, outlining proposed road closures in three areas—four blocks of Wadsworth Avenue in Rodriguez's own Washington Heights, the streets surrounding Washington Square Park, and Broadway in the Flatiron. Advocates were inspired by similar efforts in Paris, where officials conceded to shut down 30% of its streets for a day last October. "While we aim to start modestly, we expect that it will grow in the coming years in both size and ambition," Rodriguez told reporters.

According to Capital, the plan is intended to highlight New Yorker's dependence on cars while forcing legislators to acknowledge so-called transit deserts in Southeast Queens and Staten Island. The New York Water Taxi will be free to coincide with the effort, along with some CitiBike ports.

The administration is apparently planning to discourage City workers from generating exhaust fumes that day, but it remains unclear whether the Mayor will trade in his idling SUV caravan. We've contacted his office for clarity, and will update if and when they get back to us.

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