Anyone planning car travel in Manhattan next week might think twice — the annual gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly is expected to bring traffic to a halt.
“The UN General Assembly is a great event each year the city is proud to host, but New Yorkers should do their part in minimizing congestion and seeking alternative modes of transportation,” Ydanis Rodriguez, the city’s transportation commissioner, said in a statement Thursday.
The global bigwig gathering‘s most important event — the General Debate — starts next Tuesday and runs to Sept. 26. Secret Service officials, who prepare security for the event, expect 151 heads of state to attend.
Transportation Department officials said New Yorkers should expect the world leader summit to impact traffic the most from Monday, Sept. 18, to Friday, Sept 22.
The who’s who of heads of state means street closures and beefed up security around midtown — and typically leads to the slowest motor vehicle traffic days of the year. Transportation Department officials expect Midtown traffic to slow to an average speed of less than 4 mph during the summit.
Cyclists will still be able to use the First Ave. bike lane, making use of the First Ave. Tunnel from E. 40th St. to E. 49th St. A temporary bike lane will serve Second Ave. riders from E. 47th St. to E. 42nd St.
NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban called on New Yorkers to take public transit during the General Assembly at a security briefing Thursday.
“With all the motorcades, security checkpoints, street closures and other travel restrictions that will be in effect over the next two weeks, I want to remind everyone that public transportation is the fastest and safest way to move around the city,” Caban said.
The UN’s five days of traffic jams are among what DOT officials have dubbed “gridlock alert days,” the busiest traffic days of the year.
The department identified 14 other gridlock alert days before year’s end — including five weekdays in the second half of November and nine weekdays in the first half of December.
“We strongly encourage New Yorkers and those in the region to travel by transit every day of the year — but it’s especially important during gridlock alert days,” Rodriguez said