New York City Prepares for Largest-Ever Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day Celebration


Courtesy of Department of Transportation. NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announces the largest-ever Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day event, emphasizing the importance of sustainable transportation and environmental activism in New York City.

New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced the largest Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day event yet, with a number of car-free streets and extended operating hours taking place on the 54th anniversary of Earth Day on Saturday, April 20.

The annual affair, spearheaded by NYC DOT, transforms select city streets into car-free zones, amplifying activism and education on climate change, environmentalism, and sustainable transportation. This event also heralds the commencement of the city’s Open Streets and Public Space Programming season.

“Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day encourages New Yorkers to leave their vehicles at home and appreciate our streets as shared open spaces for all,”  NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said. “As part of the city’s largest-ever Car-Free Earth Day celebration, will be hosting programming, music, and other activities at dozens of car-free streets around New York City. And new, temporary public art will help us remember: We only have one planet — and we must all do our part to reduce our carbon footprint and respect our environment.”

This year’s Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day, sponsored by WABC, boasts 53 car-free streets and plazas across the five boroughs, featuring public art or community programming—an expansion from the 30 locations in 2023. NYC DOT will extend car-free operations by one hour, with streets closed from 10 am to 4 pm.

Through support from Lyft, Citi Bike will offer unlimited 30-minute rides on classic bikes for 24 hours with the promo code CARFREE24 in the Citi Bike app.

Among the highlights, four artists have been chosen to create temporary, environmentally themed works along designated routes. Natalie Wood presents EcoHarmony, transforming repurposed furniture into organic sculptures adorned with live plants, while giving away 1,000 plants to promote environmental awareness. Kelp Parade, by Amanda Thackray and Wendel Jeffrey, brings a dynamic kelp forest to life through 24 flags made from upcycled plastic bags, activated by movement and sound. Lyubava Kroll designs Keep NYC Green graphics envisioning a greener future for the city, to be installed on streetlight poles.

Signature event locations include Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, featuring a car-free route from 40th to 45th Street, and Woodside Avenue in Queens, spanning from 75th to 78th Street.

“I’m thrilled to celebrate Open Streets: Car-Free Earth Day in Queens and across the city again this year.” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr said. “This event is a great way to encourage city residents to reduce our reliance on cars and to take other steps that will reduce our city’s carbon footprint and help limit the negative impacts of climate change, which we have already started to feel.  I look forward to the Car Free Earth Day festivities that will take place on Woodside Avenue in Elmhurst, which will be a great launching point for DOT’s highly anticipated Open Streets and Public Space Programming season.”

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso emphasized the importance of sustainable transportation, envisioning safer, cleaner streets and more livable neighborhoods through investments in public transit.

“Car-free streets are more than a celebration of Earth Day, they’re a chance for New Yorkers to see the sustainable, green, healthy city of the future that’s within reach,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “By investing in public transit and encouraging a shift away from private vehicles, we can achieve a future where our streets are safer, air is cleaner, and neighborhoods are more livable. I’m so excited that NYC DOT will be not only upping the number of car-free streets but increasing the hours of operations as well, and I hope to see all of New York enjoying the great outdoors in honor of Earth Day.”

Courtesy Department of Transportation. During Earth Day this year, the Department of Transportation plans to transform select city streets into car-free zones for residents’ enjoyment.

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