April 22 is Car Free Day in New York City, which is kind of like having a day that celebrates breathing. In a place where 54 percent of the city commutes using public transit and about half of the residents don’t have cars at all, you’d think it would be pretty easy for anyone to give up cars for a single day. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s going to try his best.
According to de Blasio’s office, he’ll give it a go, but no promises, okay?
Excuse me. As much as possible? Whenever feasible?
Mayor de Blasio, with all due respect, you live in New York fucking City.
Now I understand the specific demands of a mayor might require gallivanting across town to slice through ribbons using oversized scissors. Sometimes he has to go all the way up to the South Bronx! But there’s no reason he wouldn’t be able to take the subway to all of his appointments, and carve out enough time to walk from the station to his destination. As the mayor of New York City, he should be making this same promise every day. But he certainly can do it for FOR ONE DAY.
The bigger problem is that now he’s publicly said that he’s going to try to go car-free. And if he doesn’t, it just makes New York City look stupid. For National Walk to Work Day, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti walked FIVE MILES to work—HE WALKED TO CITY HALL, he didn’t even TAKE THE SUBWAY—in Los Angeles, a place where it’s a known fact that sidewalks are covered in venomous snakes and molten lava. And he Instagrammed the entire time. Like certain presidential candidates who are trying to prove their street cred by riding the subway, de Blasio should prove to that he, too, is a true New Yorker. de Blasio definitely rides it, but his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, regularly took the subway to work, which de Blasio does not.
The New York City mayor’s office has shared de Blasio’s schedule so we can help him to plan his car-free day. He only has three scheduled events, in bold—two of them related to the Paris Climate Agreement, what better reason to not get in a car at all!—and afterwards let’s assume he will have to get back to City Hall. Here’s the itinerary that I came up with. Since it is supposed to be a car-free day, I say no cars—no taxis, no Ubers—and in my opinion, it would be fantastic if it included at least one Citi Bike segment (I included two). Let’s all tell him just how feasible it is. One day without cars, Mr. Mayor, you can do it! Do it for New York!
8:45 am: That Second Avenue Subway would be sweet right about now, but until it’s finished, you gotta take the bus like everyone else does over here. Walk from Gracie Mansion to 2nd Avenue and 88th Street to catch the M15 bus. Get off at 2nd Avenue and 42nd Street and walk to UN Headquarters at 760 United Nations Plaza. (42 minutes on the bus; walking the whole way is just 10 minutes longer.)
Update: He took the subway. Spotted riding the 5 train to the UN!
9:30 am: Mayor de Blasio will attend the signature ceremony for the Paris Climate Agreement.
10:15: There’s a bit of a time crunch here, but this is one of those trips where a bike will be faster than the subway or a car. Walk from UN Headquarters at 760 United Nations Plaza to Citi Bike station at 1st Avenue and 44th Street, ride to Citi Bike station at Mac Dougal & Prince, walk to WNYC at 160 Varick Street. (21 minutes on a bike, adding a few minutes on either end to check in/out bike.)
10:40 am: Mayor de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” to discuss affordable housing, Earth Day and Rikers Island.
12:30 pm: Time to go underground. Walk from WNYC at 160 Varick Street to the 1 at Houston Street and switch to the 7 at Times Square. Get off at Grand Central and walk to UN Headquarters at 760 United Nations Plaza. (29 minutes on the subway, with plenty of time to prep for remarks.)
Update: If you listened to WNYC, I don’t think the mayor recorded this live show in the studio, the audio sounds like he called in. So I’m assuming he did the show from the UN. Hope he got outside and took a nice walk!
1:35 pm: Mayor de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Paris Climate Agreement luncheon.
4:00 pm: Hey, it’s going to be a beautiful day. You just saved the planet. Why not grab that Citi Bike again outside UN Headquarters at 760 United Nations Plaza and ride the East River Bikeway all the way back to City Hall? It will only take about 30 minutes, and you can stop by the car-free stretch of Broadway. But if you’re looking to out-do LA? You should just walk the whole way. (25 minutes a bike, walking is 80 minutes.)
Update: We don’t know how the mayor traveled when he left the UN. We’ve reached out to his staff but if you have any intel, let me know!
Please share your proposed itineraries, transit tips, and ideas for how to go car-free (for one day) with the mayor!