City Councilman looks to expand Earth Day's 'Car Free NYC'

TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Imagine Times Square on a Saturday afternoon without a car in sight. That's the goal of this year's Earth Day celebration in New York City, which aims to be even bigger than last year.

And the plan includes a large swath of Manhattan open to pedestrians only, a pet project of City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.

A project gets to be powerful when it is embraced by everyone," he said.

In 2016, New Yorkers were able to walk, bike and even play games on Broadway between the Flatiron building and Union Square. The scope is more ambitious this year, with 30 car-free blocks from from Union Square to Times Square. The expansion is made easier because Earth Day falls on a Saturday.
"If the whole city could go car free, I'd prefer that," one pedestrian said. "It's a pain having all this traffic all the time."

Car Free NYC will indeed go beyond Manhattan, with a stretch of Eagle Avenue in the Bronx one of the multiple locations throughout four boroughs. Other sections include St. Nicholas Avenue in Upper Manhattan, Montague Street in Brooklyn, and Shore Boulevard and Woodside Avenue in Queens.

The goal is to not only cut emissions, but also to call for improved mass transit options.

"It's about knowing that we can do a small contribution to save our planet," Rodriguez said.
Citi bikes will be free of charge for the day, and a number of events are planned.

Rodriguez is also looking beyond this year's expansion, with the goal for future Earth Day celebrations to include a car-free Broadway from the city line in Yonkers down to the Battery in lower Manhattan.
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.