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: February 17
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
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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.
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
February 1, 2015      

Gridlock Sam's MOVE NY Plan:
Using Tolls to Reduce Midtown Traffic

Dear Friends of Auto-Free New York:

Cutting car use in the core of the city has long been a goal of New York's advocates for a more sustainable urban transport system. To accomplish this, IRUMís near-term Livable City Transport Plan focuses on using pricing incentives as a key way to reduce the harms caused by unfettered motor vehicular use in the most crowded parts of our city. Over the years, one of the strongest proponents of pricing road access to the Manhattan Central Business District (CBD) is Sam Schwartz, a transportation consultant known for having served for years as the city's traffic commissioner and for his widely read Daily News column, Gridlock Sam.

Schwartz spearheaded the Move NY Fair Plan. He has invested a substantial portion of his time and resources to make the case for a cordon toll on all the roadways leading into the Manhattan CBD. His plan would not only restore tolls on the four "free" bridges that channel traffic across the East River into the most crowded parts of the core, but also would establish tolls for motorists using city streets that cross into the CBD at 60th Street.

Such plans are complex and require intelligent review. Learn more about Samís ďMove NY Fair Plan at our February 17 Auto-Free NY/vision42 working group meeting, where the guest speaker will be Schwartz's associate, Jonathan Matz, coordinator and analyst for the Move NY Campaign.
*       *       *
Also on the agenda for the February 17 meeting will be:

- Update on efforts to advance the vision42 initiative for an auto-free light rail boulevard on 42nd Street.

- VANDERBILT CORRIDOR (GCT) REZONING: FEB 4 MEETING, 9AM, US Custom House at 1 Bowling Green: An opportunity to voice your support for vision42 is coming up this Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at a 9am meeting of the NYC Planning Commission, at the National Museum of the American Indian, US Custom House, at One Bowling Green. The Commission will hear comments from the public at the meeting, where it will consider a proposed rezoning of the Vanderbilt Corridor allowing "skyís the limit" rezoning of five blocks along Vanderbilt Avenue, beginning at 42nd Street and extending north to 47th Street. The first domino in this proposed row of mega-oversized buildings is right on 42nd Street, abutting IRUMís vision42 proposal. Hewing to the same real estate developer demands that guided the previous Mayor, Billionaire Bloomberg, the city continues to fail to grasp the need for a comprehensive street use plan, long requested by the midtown community boards, to address the need for adequate pedestrian space and improved cross-town surface transit in the face of growing economic activity in the core. With Manhattan land values at an all time high, it is hard to make the case to rush this upzoning so that property owners can avoid alleged economic hardship while a thoughtful analysis is made. To learn more about this proposal, and to express your concerns to City Planning at the hearing, or in writing, see this City Planning Calendar item.

- Status report on IRUMís effort regional rail initiative - a plan to remake the three commuter rail system serving the NY-NJ-CT metropolitan area, so as to function as a single regional rail system with frequent service, integrated fares and through-running. For more info, see our Regional Rail Plan.

- Brief discussion of the Port Authorityís current planning effort, its Cross-Hudson Rail Freight plan.

Please plan to attend our February 17 meeting, from 6-8pm at the Transportation Alternatives office at 127 West 26th Street,10th Floor, in Midtown. An rsvp is not required but highly recommended, at
George Haikalis, Chair          

P.S. LETTER IN CRAIN'S NEW YORK: On another note, a letter to the editor of mine was published in the Sept. 28 Crains New York, a business newsletter, in which I suggested how LaGuardia Airport could be closed and the land converted to affordable housing. The letter can be found by searching the Crain's New York website or opening this link: Goodbye LGA, Hello Quieter Skies and Affordable Housing.
     ROXANNE'S FORTHCOMING BOOK: Also upcoming soon will be the publication of vision42 principal Roxanne Warren's new book, "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.
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

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, 2015:

Tuesday, February 17, 6-8pm
The Move New York Plan
Speaker: "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz, ex-DOT, Daily News columnist
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

Tuesday, March 17, 6-8pm
Topic to be Announced
Speaker: To be announced
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 Feb 1, 2015.