Light Rail
Regional Rail
Penn Station
Livable City Plan
Serving NYC since 1989!

pedestrians first!

A movement aimed at exploring and achieving the upper limit of "devehicularization" of our nation's largest city. Get cars out of our parks. Curb the reckless motorists who dominate our streets. Cut noise, smog and traffic costs. Increase pedestrian space and safety. Invest in new transit options and expansion -- not just baby steps -- and make bicycling better. A livable city is possible!

Auto-Free NY has been holding FREE monthly meetings, featuring a wide variety of guest speakers, since its founding in February, 1989. Usually held in Manhattan, they are open to the public, and no reservations are needed.
The Livable City Transport Plan
is an affordable, comprehensive vision of our city, designed to be achievable in just one four-year mayoral term. Using innovations now common in more sophisticated and democratically run cities here and abroad, this plan would raise New Yorkers' quality of life through better functioning public transit, a noticeable reduction in car use and much more auto-free space in the core of NYC, the most densely populated city in the nation. As always, we look forward to your thoughtful review and comments.

• The City's plaNYC 2030
Lower Manhattan
Light Rail in NYC
Regional Rail Working Group

Light Rail: perfect for cities (photo courtesy, based in Austin, Texas)

How the NY Times Covers NYC
42nd St. Trolleys - Recent History
What's so Great about Streetcars?
Light Rail in the Lincoln Tunnel!
New York Streetcar News Index
East River Bridges
Rockaway Beach Line (Qns)
Life's a Beach for Paris Mayor
Berlin: Transport Politics
How to Join/Donate
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The Five-Minute Activist
Previous "Letters from George"
Remembering Steve Dobrow

Auto-Free NY operates under the aegis of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, Inc. (IRUM), a not-for-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status.
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If Car Names Were Honest:
Audi My-Way
Chevy Fistfight
Chrysler Criminal
Dodge Tumor
Ford Poluta XS
GMC Denial
Honda Discord
Hyundai Enslava
Lamborghini OINK
Lexus Segregator
Lincoln Alienator
Mazda MeFirstLastOnly
Mercury Dioxin
Saab Flatus
Saturn UrFaddas
Subaru Deforester
Toyota Runovia
VW Smoggia

Be a patriot - use mass transit!

A rare Vision Zero electronic sign at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn exhorts motorists to slow down, May 2015. Not long after this picture was taken, the sign vanished.  Photo: Wayne Fields

HARD-TO-SEE VISION ZERO: A rare vision Zero electronic sign at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn exhorts motorists to slow down, May 2015. Not long after this picture was taken, the sign vanished. The paucity of Vision Zero signage citywide, and the ongoing siege of the city by reckless, speeding motorists leads some to suspect the safety measure is almost a top municipal secret. Photo: Wayne Fields

 Letter from George
August 1, 2015      

2015 Summer Walking Tours:
August: Red Hook, Brooklyn

Dear Friends of Sustainable Transport:

Itís summertime and time once again for our always popular Auto-Free NY/vision42 walking tours. Both of this summer's tours will feature Robert Moses at his best and his worst! (More on this later.) An RSVP is not necessary, but recommended, at!

Our August walking tour will have Ray Howell show us around the Gowanus Canal and Red Hook. We'll meet on the eastern (nearest to Park Slope) end of the southbound (Coney Island-bound) platform of the Smith-9th Street F/G station, promptly at 6pm, Tuesday August 18. This station, the highest above-ground subway station in the city, gives us a panoramic view of not just the lower Manhattan skyline but the once-shunned neighborhood of Gowanus, the Gowanus Canal and the Gowanus Expressway, part of NYCís industrial heritage - for better or for worse. The canal, long one of the nationís most polluted waterways (think Brooklyn's version of Love Canal), was created from the Gowanus Creek and its marshy surroundings around 1869. Thanks to the recent efforts of community organizations, and development pressures from real estate front groups, the Canal is on track with the EPA and local and state efforts for clean-up and restoration as a welcoming waterway.

From the high-up subway platform, we can also see an environmental intrusion that has defied demolition - Robert Moses' 'gift' to the neighborhood - the Gowanus Expressway. This elevated highway is a regional traffic magnet, creating its own chronic traffic jams by inviting people to drive rather than take transit, and divides the neighborhoods it towers over with its noise, pollution and crashes - a linear automobile slum from the day it opened some 75 years ago. Auto-Free New York came up with a plan some years ago to tear it down and replace it with an at-grade roadway and light rail line.

After a brief tour of the recently renovated subway station (a case study on why we need to continue funding MTAís capital program), we will board the B61 bus for a short trip down to the Beard Street Pier and the Brooklyn waterfront (those on bicycle can follow). We will get a glimpse of the remains of Bob Diamondís pioneering effort in the '90s and '00s to bring light rail (OK, trolleys) back to Brooklyn, once home of the nationís most extensive street railway network.

Ray Howell is a longtime community activist and a regular at our Auto-Free New York/vision42 events. Bring a MetroCard, since we will also take the bus to the Beard Street Pier. More info later!
George Haikalis, Chair          

P.S.      GEORGE IN TV DEBATE, NOW ON YOUTUBE: I invite you to watch on youtube a lively TV panel debate I was on, on the Brian Lehrer cable TV show (April 2, 2014). The debate, "Rail or Trail (or both) for the disused Rockaway Beach Line in central Queens" featured myself, as president of IRUM, arguing for restoration of the rail right-of-way, and Travis Terry, of the Friends of Queensway, arguing to convert it into a linear park. The youtube address:

(or use youtube's search function). Note: skip forward around 40 minutes into Lehrer's show, when the debate portion, around 15 minutes long, begins. Enjoy!!
     NYC SMOG ALERT UPDATES:Despite propaganda about how clean cars are these days, NYC's air quality continues to be the worst on the East Coast -- practically every day here is an Air Quality Alert Day, meaning you shouldn't breath when outdoors. For updates, call the state Dept of Environmental Conservation at 1-800 535-1345.
     Regional Rail Group Update: Our Regional Rail Working Group also meets monthly. This group showcases the efforts of individuals from a variety of transit advocacy groups to awaken our region's sleeping giant, its commuter rail system. Note that because of the damage from Hurricane Sandy done to Hoboken in fall 2012, we cannot hold our regular monthly meetings at the Hoboken City Hall.) Until further notice, we urge those who can make it to attend our regular Auto-Free NY/vision42 working group meetings. Information on a restored meeting time and place will be announced as soon as possible.


The car plague is still with us. Illustration dates from the early 1990s.

EarthDay NY 2015: Brought to you by Toyota

New York Times: Filler vs. Reporting
on 'Vision Zero'

New tracking technology in our neighborhoods
Recognize these gray boxes? EZ-Pass and Big Brother have joined op to invade our privacy, using taxpayer money. Location: Atlantic Avenue at Boerum Street, Brooklyn. Read more
Remarkable (& Free)
Long Island Bike & Hike Map


The Inexorable Logic of Urban Auto Use Reduction

Auto-Free NY Meetings, 2015:

Tuesday, August 18, 6-8pm
Guided Tour of Red Hook, Brooklyn
Meet at 6pm sharp, Smith/9th station on the F/G train, at east end of southbound platform

Tuesday, September 15, 6-8pm
topic to be announced
Speaker to be announced
NOTE: Transportation Alternatives is moving this summer! As kindred souls, we have been graciously invited by the bike advocacy group to continue our monthly meetings at their new office at 111 John Street, 2nd floor. A very close subway station: Fulton Street on the 2/3 Lines.

Wrecked SUV at Canal Street; 2010. Note parking ticket on ground. Photo by Wayne Fields.

Another SUV smashed by its reckless driver (Canal Street, Feb 2011): The bulk of these top-heavy, inadequately braked "bloatmobiles" makes their driver feel invulnerable, and so they drive worse, and crash more. Big business, attuned to wasteful and overdesigned products in principle, embraced SUVs as prime subjects beginning in the mid-90s, for one of the most intensive marketing and indoctrination campaigns in US car company history. But inexorably, American price supports for lower cost gasoline are going to end, while the realities of declining world oil production, and increasing political, military and climate chaos will grow more stark. Once the true costs of our national gasoline orgy start being paid by US motorists themselves rather than everyone else, these gas guzzling giants will quickly end up more worthless junk - and we may just get the quality public transportation -- and the sustainable economy -- we deserve.

Car Hugger as seen in yet another 'NY Times' car promotion, April 16, 2003.

Above: This car-hugger illustration appeared in the New York Times, which has a longstanding grudge against doing serious transit journalism.

Auto-Free New York George Haikalis, Chairman  |  One Washington Sq. Village, #5D, NYC 10012  |  Phone: (212) 475-3394  |
© Copyright 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Auto-Free New York. This page last updated August 14, 2015.