A Little Rain Didn’t Stop New Yorkers From Enjoying the Car-Free Streets This Weekend

The Earth Day events kicked off DOT's spring and summer season of car-free Weekend Walks.

St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights. Photo: Brad Aaron
St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights. Photo: Brad Aaron

Despite the overcast skies and drizzle, New Yorkers flocked to car-free streets in four boroughs on Saturday, the second year the city has marked Earth Day by turning over streets to people.

In Midtown, 30 blocks of Broadway were liberated from car traffic, as were street segments in Upper Manhattan, Astoria, Sunnyside, Brooklyn Heights, and Melrose.

“Today’s a day of celebration, it’s a day of recognizing that we can contribute to saving our planet,” said City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez, who organized the day’s events with NYC DOT.

Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson caught the activities on Broadway and spoke to Rodriguez and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg about the initiative:

While the car-free events were bigger than last year, Mayor de Blasio hasn’t attached his name to it, and the connection to permanent policy changes remains tenuous. In cities with mayoral leadership committed to reducing cars and traffic on city streets, car-free days tend to pack a bigger punch.

Still, the Earth Day kick-off is a nice addition to DOT’s spring and summer schedule of car-free Weekend Walks and Summer Streets. The more chances people get to use the whole street, without worrying about the constant threat of traffic, the better.

Kids and their families took advantage of car-free Shore Boulevard, despite the rain. Photo: David Meyer
Shore Boulevard in Astoria was packed with people despite the rain. Photo: David Meyer
Photo: Jeff Prant
Broadway at 18th Street. Photo: Jeff Prant