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Earth Day: Car Free NYC to close off traffic on Broadway

Now in its third year, Car Free Day aims to encourage New Yorkers to use other forms of transportation, including mass transit and bikes.

Manhattan traffic, seen here on Nov. 7, 2014.

Manhattan traffic, seen here on Nov. 7, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

City officials plan to mark Earth Day by shutting down vehicular traffic along a stretch of Broadway in Manhattan.

During the event, which is planned for April 21, the Saturday before Earth Day, Broadway will be car-free between Times Square and Union Square, according to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.

Now in its third year, Car Free Day is meant to encourage people to take more eco-friendly modes of transportation, like mass transit or bikes.

“As we work toward a future with lower emissions and improved public transportation, it becomes increasingly clear that reducing the number of cars on our streets is one of the most important factors in this battle,” Johnson said in an emailed statement.

City officials are working on creating five rest stops along the route — Times Square, Herald Square, Garment District, Flatiron District and Union Square — that will draw in pedestrians with Earth Day-themed activities.

The Department of Transportation is currently accepting programming proposals with a focus on climate change and sustainability from nonprofits, artists and performers. Submissions are due no later than March 16.

Rodriguez, who is the chair of the council’s transportation committee, said Car Free Day enables New Yorkers to experience the city in a different way.

“We are lucky to live in such a walkable city filled with history, art and beautiful views everywhere we go,” he said. “It is in all of our interests to ensure this event is greater every year. Our planet depends on it.”

New York City is not alone in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions while encouraging discourse about sustainability. Car Free Day has become an institution throughout Bogota, Colombia, and Paris banned cars in parts of the city on the first Sunday of every month in 2016.

With Vincent Barone

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