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
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
Subaru Deforester
Toyota Runovia
VW Smoggia

Be a patriot - use mass transit!

Inbound traffic over the free East River bridges; the vast majority of these cars carry only one person - the driver. May 2010.

Above: Inbound traffic over one of the untolled East River bridges, showing the city's success in incentivizing private car commuting; the vast majority of these cars only carry one person - the driver. May 2010.

 Letter from George
May 1, 2015      


Dear Friends of Auto-Free New York:

Advocates for fewer cars in the crowded core of NYC welcome and wholeheartedly endorse the recently launched Move-NY campaign for a cordon toll around the Manhattan Central Business District (CBD).

Reducing vehicle-miles of travel (VMT) in the core is critical to the economic and environmental well-being of the city and its residents and visitors. Each intersection in Manhattan is a 'war zone' between fragile pedestrians struggling to cross the street through this 'shared space' of crosswalks, and angry and hostile motorists. In fact, it was a wave of pedestrian deaths under the wheels of motorists (mostly cabbies) that finally convinced government of the value of Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero campaign.

Vision Zero, although poorly enforced and inadequately signed, is a huge step in the right direction to stop the slow-motion riot of motorists' killings of pedestrians and bicyclists. But even if wildly successful - ie, it hits its explicit goal of reducing to zero the number of people killed by cars each year in the city, NYC's crosswalks would still be frightening and intimidating zones for our city's walkers.

Moving toward a totally auto-free city, like Venice, is still many years away. But by creating a grid of auto-free streets in Manhattan, laced with modern low-floor light rail lines, a dramatic transformation in the near term is feasible and doable, and would complement the Move-NY cordon toll plan. Another part of the cordon toll plan should be to remake the regionís three commuter rail lines into a 'regional rail system' with frequent service, integrated fares and through-running at Penn Station. Our Regional Rail Working Group has a terrific 40-page illustrated pdf available here. Find out how a coherent plan for light rail and regional rail can drastically shrink NYCís car chaos in the near term.

Plan to attend the next Auto-Free NY/vision42 working group meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 6-8pm, at the Transportation Alternatives office at 127 West 26th Street in Manhattan. Auto-Free NY Chair George Haikalis will lead the discussion. Bring your ideas and participate. The meeting will also review progress on advancing the vision42 plan for an auto-free boulevard on 42nd Street. You can see the four winning designs of the recent digital design competition here.

Also, save the date: On Tuesday, June 16, vision42 chair author and architect Roxanne Warren will give some highlights of her landmark book recently published by MIT Press: Rail and the City. For a review go to

Finally, read George's May 8 op-ed piece in the NY Times on how regional rail can make a large city-owned waterfront site available for affordable housing while greatly improving rail access to the regionís airports and reducing aviation noise.
George Haikalis, Chair          

P.S. ROXANNE'S BOOK: Roxanne Warren's book was published in 2014: "Rail and the City: Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint While Re-Imagining Urban Space" (MIT Press).
     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 Grey Boxes?
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, 2015:

Tuesday, May 19, 6-8pm
Regional Rail for metro NYC and NJ
Speaker: George Haikalis
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

Tuesday, June 16, 6-8pm
Highlights of Roxanne Warren's Book Rail and the City
Speaker: Roxanne Warren
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.

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 May 16, 2015.