Earth Day is Friday, and it's the city's first Car-Free Earth Day, a slightly misnomered but well-intentioned event that is encouraging New Yorkers to participate in a voluntary one-day ban on driving in the city. To coincide with this effort, Citi Bike is offering free rides throughout the city to anyone who signs up online.
Signing up is simple and doesn't appear to have any strings attached: enter your email and name on Citi Bike's website (you can opt out of promotional mailings), and you'll be sent a code to redeem a 24-hour access pass that'll be valid at any of Citi Bike's stations tomorrow. When you select "24-Hour Access Pass," you'll prompted to swipe your credit card, but you can then enter your free ride code.
As part of Car-Free Earth Day, a select few streets will be entirely closed to motor vehicles, and will instead host street activities:
- 173rd St.-177th St. will be closed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- 17th St. - 23rd St. will be closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Laguardia Place between W. 3rd and W. 4th St. will be closed from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The event is intended to draw attention to the city's dependence on cars, as well as its transit deserts in parts of Queens and Staten Island.
"We need to encourage as many New Yorkers as possible to understand that we have a good system of mass transportation, with the buses, train, and ferries, but at the same time we have to identify transportation deserts throughout the five boroughs, especially in the outer-borough areas, where we can still do better connecting those communities through mass transportation," City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who's spearheading Car-Free Earth Day, told Streetsblog this week. "I believe we’ll see some car owners decide to park their car and use mass transportation that day."
When Paris held its own car-free day last October, some parts of the city saw drops in levels of nitrogen dioxide of up to 40 percent.
Also in honor of the day, New York Water Taxi will offer free day passes to anyone with an IDNYC card, and Lyft will be offering discounts. Non-essential city vehicles will be benched for the day, and Columbia, NYU, CUNY, and The New School will also limit their car use.