NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The United Nations General Assembly begins next week and the Department of Transportation is asking commuters to keep their cars at home.
It’s the first time the 6-day event has been added to New York City’s Gridlock Alert days.
The DoT is rolling out a $500,000 multimedia campaign to warn drivers about gridlock alert days.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, some commuters might argue every day in New York City is a Gridlock Alert day, so why waste city tax dollars warning people about an issue they deal with all the time? There’s bumper to bumper traffic for as far as the eye can see, and the crawl across town can make people see red. That’s a regular day in Midtown Manhattan, Sanchez reported.
“It’s a nightmare,” said taxi driver Muhammad Sheikh.
“Do you think that it has gotten worse?” asked Sanchez.
“Obviously,” he said.
Anyone who works, lives or regularly drives around the city knows traffic often reaches a standstill during the UN General Assembly, Sanchez reported.
“Working in Manhattan during that week is a big headache,” one commuter told Sanchez.
The Department of Transportation says traffic speeds are slower during the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations than during the 10 traditional Gridlock Alert days around the Holidays in November and December.
“I will probably work from home,” one person told Sanchez.
“I don’t really understand why people are always riding their car out when they know it’s faster to walk or bike,” said Midtown resident Tina Shin.
While people like Shin say they know to avoid Midtown streets during Gridlock Alert days, on Tuesday the DoT launched a half-million dollar multimedia campaign that will use radio and social media ads to encourage drivers to take alternative transportation during heavy traffic days by walking, biking or using mass transit.
Some New Yorkers are asking why invest so much money on advice the city has already been pushing for years.
“I think we’re hoping this campaign that we’re investing in will have some benefits beyond that… which will encourage some people who maybe hadn’t tried mass transit or hadn’t tried Citibike, shared rides, to try those things and maybe stick with ’em,” said DoT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
To keep more cars off the street next week, rideshare company Via is offering 50 percent off each additional rider within Manhattan. Citibike is offering a 50 percent discount on its three day pass. Cyclist John Scotto says it’s the only way to go.
“It’s so much faster to get around than other ways. And it’s better for the whole community if we don’t drive,” Scotto said.
For more information about Gridlock Alert Days, click here.