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. Shift city and state funds from highway expansion to investments in new transit options and extensions -- not just baby steps. Last but not least, 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, on the third Tuesday of each month, 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)

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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!

Traffic jams in both directions, East River Drive, looking north from the Manhattan Bridge. Sept 2016. Photo: Wayne Fields.
Traffic jams in both directions crowd the East River Drive in this Sept 2016 view looking north from the Manhattan Bridge. Hundreds of millions of dollars of public money have been spent adding lanes and ramps to this highway, that was supposed to eliminate traffic, but of course only invited more people to drive. The vast majority of the cars in this picture carry only one person - the driver; most of the cabs and for-hire cars carry only one passenger. Photo: Wayne Fields.

 Letter from George
February 1, 2017      

Three Ways to Make NYC a Better City

Dear Friends of Sustainable Transport:

Our next Auto-Free NY/regional rail/vision42 meeting will take place Tuesday, February 21, 6-8pm, at the Transportation Alternatives offices in Lower Manhattan. At the meeting, three key initiatives will be discussed:

1. Creating a grid of light rail/pedestrian streets for the Manhattan Central Business District (CBD) beginning with a plan for an Auto-Free Light Rail Boulevard on 42nd Street:
An updated presentation will be reviewed, including the latest findings of the Phase Six Economic Study of benefits, costs and fiscal impacts of vision42. Strategies for moving this proposal forward will also be discussed. Efforts to advance other light rail proposals for NYC, including the Mayor's proposed BQX waterfront light rail line, will also be reviewed.

2. A plan for remaking the three commuter rail lines serving NYC into a regional rail system, with frequent service, integrated fares and thru-running:
Our focus at the meeting will be on design and operational issues for making a connection between Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, the centerpiece of the regional rail plan. The engineering alignment for this connection was developed by PB Engineering, the nationís largest engineering firm at the time these studies were done. This is described in the 1999 Milestone Summary Report Access to the Regionís Core, Phases 1 and 2.
    There is an existing study available online, hidden away on the PA's website, as a 115-page pdf. We strongly recommend downloading this report: [Note that the O at the end of the address is the letter, not a zero.]
    Except for this one summary, none of the details, including plan, profile, soil conditions, property requirements, and so on have ever been released by the three agencies responsible for this study - MTA, NJ Transit and the PANYNJ. These details have been hidden from public view most likely because these bureaucracies do not want to lose "control" of their fiefdoms by giving any credibility to this connection. (Since the bulk of the funding for these studies came for the USDOT, perhaps the new leadership in Washington can "drain these swamps").
    You can read IRUMís recent letter to US-DOT at the website:

3. A comprehensive transit plan for NYC:
Our streets are the Cityís biggest open space asset, comprising more than a quarter of NYC's land area. If valued at the same price as abutting, privately-owned property, this city-owned real estate would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Managers of a privately-owned real investment firm that had responsibility for an asset this size would have long ago been fired for such a wasteful use of a priceless resource.
    Nearly 30 years ago, Auto-Free NY produced its own street management plan. The plan combined "carrot and stick" measures to reduce vehicle-miles of travel with greatly increased transit service:
    Now the NYC Department of Transportation is embarking on yet another "kabuki dance" citywide transit exercise. There have been many such plans since the agency was created in the 1970s by Mayor John Lindsay. Auto-Free NY encourages its participants to review AFNY's own comprehensive four-year plan and then speak out during the review process for the new NYCDOT transit plan.
    For more details about the city's latest effort, see:
    Also see last year's NYCDOT strategic plan:

These three steps would radically improve the city as a place to live, work and visit. The cityís leadership, content with baby steps like sprinkling hither and thither a few bike lanes and wider sidewalks, is nevertheless unable or unwilling to advocate for any significant reduction in vehicle-miles of travel on its streets, even with workable, doable, affordable plans staring them in the face. Our local and state politicians continue to doom one generation after another of residents and visitors to the smog, noise, physical threat and diminished quality of life brought on by too many cars in a crowded city.

Plan to attend our February 21 meeting, 6-8pm. The TA offices are at 111 John Street, a block south of the Seaport, in lower Manhattan. All are welcome, and it is free. An RSVP is not required but is highly recommended, at

George Haikalis, Chair          

P.S.  NYC SMOG ALERT UPDATES:Despite ongoing 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 breathe when outdoors, or live within a few blocks of a city highway or through street. For updates, call the state Dept of Environmental Conservation at 1-800 535-1345.


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

Janette Sadik-Khan's book Street Fight

NY Times: Filler vs. Reporting on 'Vision Zero'

New tracking technology in our neighborhoods
"I Refuse to Give Up My Freedoms!" 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

The Inexorable Logic of Urban Auto Use Reduction

Auto-Free NY Meetings, 2017:

Tuesday, February 21, 6-8pm
Three Key Steps for a Better NYC
TA's office, 111 John Street, 2nd Fl., NYC

Tuesday, March 21, 6-8pm
Topic to be Announced
TA's office, 111 John Street, 2nd Fl., NYC

* DIRECTIONS: Meetings are at Transportation Alternatives' HQ, at 111 John Street, 2nd Fl. (just off Water Street, below Seaport. Bike-friendly building!) Meetings start promptly at 6pm and end at 8pm. Our meetings are always FREE and open to the public.
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): With gas cheap, SUV's are back, much to the glee of the car companies. The bulk of these top-heavy, inadequately braked "bloatmobiles" makes their driver feel invulnerable, and so they drive worse, and crash more. Big business, pressing its wasteful and overdesigned products, embraced SUVs as prime subjects beginning in the mid-90s, during the Clinton regime. Americans were subjected to one of the most intensive marketing and indoctrination campaigns in US car company history. But inexorably, lower-priced gasoline is going to end, as growing climate chaos intersects with environmental collapse and increasing political and military chaos. 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  |
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