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!

NEXT MEETING: October 21
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
Visit These Links
Recent Books
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.
Note: this website is best viewed with Text Size set to "Smaller" or "Medium."
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
Scion Boxian Smeli-Pootr
Subaru Deforester
Toyota Runovia
VW Smoggia

Be a patriot - use mass transit!

Conservancy Shuts Out the Public.

Above: HEY! YOU! GET OFF OF MY LAWN!: Here in Central Park, a Conservancy sign fences out the public in order to preserve "their" lawns. In the summer of 2014, the residents of an ever more crowded city flock to their parks, eager for open space, a little bit of nature, and quiet, only to find more and more fences, restrictions, intrusive police patrols and commercial activities. Photo: W Fields, summer 2011.

 Letter from George
October 1, 2014     

People vs. Cars:
The Early History of a Movement

Dear Friends of Auto-Free New York:

Knowing where we’ve been can often guide us to what next steps we might take as we continue the long struggle against the automobile siege of NYC and other densely populated urban places.

One of the early pioneers of this urban "devehicularization" movement was David Gurin, a co-founder of Transportation Alternatives, back in 1973. At our October Auto-Free NY/vision42 working group meeting, we are fortunate to have David share his recollections about championing this cause, while staying just below the radar as a planning professional in NYC and Toronto.

Also at the meeting we will have an update on IRUM’s International Digital Design Competition for vision42 - an Auto-Free Light Rail Boulevard for 42nd Street. A remarkable 198 applications have been received to date, and now the difficult task of selecting a winner and several runners up has begun, and will be showcased at a reception for our November meeting.

Plan to attend our next meeting of the vision42/Auto-Free NY working group on Tuesday, October 21, 6-8pm, at the TA office at 127 West 26th Street. An RSVP is not required but is strongly recommended, at

THE LATE JOHN ROZANKOWSKI: On a sad note: a longtime champion for better public transit, John Rozankowski, who was a guest speaker at one of our Auto-Free NY meetings a few years ago, passed away late in September. Details about John can be found at: We will miss him.

LETTER IN CRAIN'S NEW YORK: On another note, I had a letter to the editor published in the Sept. 28 Crains New York, a business newsletter. The letter suggested how LaGuardia Airport could be closed and the land converted to affordable housing and can be read via this link: Goodbye LGA, Hello Quieter Skies and Affordable Housing.

ROXANNE'S FORTHCOMING BOOK: Also upcoming sometime this fall will be the publication of vision42 principal Roxanne Warren's new book, "Rail and the City: Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint While Reimagining Urban Space" (MIT Press). And I invite you to watch on youtube a lively TV debate I was on back in April, 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!!
George Haikalis, Chair

P.S. NYC SMOG ALERT UPDATES: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 (800) 535-1345.

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

Peter Freund, 1940-2014<br>AFNY co-founder and Professor Emeritus
Peter Freund, 1940-2014
Professor Emeritus, AFNY co-founder
(obit to appear here soon)

New tracking technology in our neighborhoods
Recognize this Grey Box?
EZ-Pass and Big Brother Join Up

Remarkable (& Free)
Long Island Bike & Hike Map


The Inexorable Logic of Urban Auto Use Reduction

Auto-Free NY Meetings, 2014:

Tuesday, October 21, 6-8pm
People v. Cars: The Early History of a Movement
Speaker: David Gurin, former NYC DoT deputy commissioner
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

Tuesday, November 18, 6-8pm
Reception for Exhibit of Winner, vision42 Digital Design Competition
Lobby, Four Times Square
Lobby Gallery Hours: Mon-Fri, 8AM-7PM. The Show will be up Nov 17 thru Jan 2, 2015.

Tuesday, December 16, 6-8pm
Topic to be announced
Speaker: Paul Gawkowski, transportation planner; former director, NYC Transit Operations Planning, Brooklyn & Queens Surface Transit
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

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.

Auto-Free New York . . . more than just bollards and paintstripes
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 2013, 2014. All rights reserved. Auto-Free New York. This page last updated October 8, 2014.