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 lower 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
Lexus Segregator
Lincoln Alienator
Mercury Dioxin
Saab Flatus
Saturn UrFaddas
Scion Boxian Smeli-Pootr
Subaru Deforester
Toyota Runovia
VW Smoggia

Be a patriot - use mass transit!

Whole Foods, 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, April 2014.

Above: This spring, the latest big-box store catering to motorists in NYC opened. Whole Foods, at 3rd Street and the Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, added a novel feature of solar panels over the car storage area, clever brickwork to hide the cars from the street, an underdesigned bike rack, which when we visited, was already overflowing with bicycles, and a rooftop pub to attract idle hipsters. Note that the building is at the site's highest elevation, at left (Gowanus Canal is off to the right) to minimize property damage from the next superstorm flood. Photo: W Fields, April 6, 2014.

 Letter from George
April 1, 2014     

Achieving Vision Zero:
A Community Effort to Save Lives

Dear Friends of Auto-Free New York:

Surrounded by hundreds of square miles of cars-only suburbs, NYC has for decades done everything possible to invite motorists into its densely populated core, and to let them drive as fast as they like, wherever they are. As detailed in books like Robert Caro's "The Power Broker," this post-war motor-vehicle siege inspired numerous other cities on a private-vehicle "race to the bottom" and indirectly contributed to global warming and large-scale pollution of the atmosphere. It was only NYC's massive subway system, which couldn't be sold off, dismantled or otherwise sabotaged, that saved the city from the dismal fate of the urban cores of many other American cities.

As dangerous as smog and global warming can be, the real danger, as anyone who walks or bikes in the city knows practically from their first step, are the 4,000-pound "particulates" hurtling down our city’s streets. Some 300 lives are violently ended each year on the killing fields of New York’s streets and sidewalks, about half of them pedestrians or cyclists, the other half motorists and their passengers.

Unlike his foot-dragging predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, candidate and then Mayor Bill De Blasio made clear that he would act decisively against this murderous "slow-motion riot." DiBlasio announced in February 2014 the Vision Zero project with a 42-page plan, modeled after a similar effort begun in more sophisticated cities in several Scandinavian countries. Vision Zero's core concept is that all traffic deaths are inherently preventable. There may be some traffic-weary auto-free advocates who might carp that short of banning all motor vehicles from New York’s streets, or assigning one cop to monitor each motorist, the goal of zero traffic fatalities is not achievable. Yet if the program produces a significant reduction in our annual "road kill," it will be well worth paying attention. City Hall will need to turn the spotlight on those goliaths traditionally most willing to derail such safety campaigns: the taxi industry, the NYPD, the State legislature which decides city speed limits, the Port Authority and its devotion to toll revenues, and "windshield-perspective-only" DoT bureaucrats.

Plan to attend our next Auto-Free NY/vision42 meeting on Tuesday April 15, when Thomas DeVito, a Manhattan organizer for Transportation Alternatives, will speak on "Achieving Vision Zero: A Community Effort to Save Lives." The meeting will be from 6-8pm, at the T.A. office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Floor, in Manhattan. Although not required, an RSVP to to attend is highly recommended.

Also, I invite you to watch on youtube a lively TV debate that took place on Brian Lehrer's TV show on 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: you may want to 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.
Snow in the City - Enjoy Less Cars!
New York Times - Filler vs. Reporting on 'Vision Zero'

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

Remarkable (& Free) Long Island Bike & Hike Map

Scapegoating Bicyclists for NYC's Reckless Motor Vehicle Climate

The Inexorable Logic of Urban Auto Use Reduction

Auto-Free NY
Meetings, 2014:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 6-8pm
Achieving Vision Zero Project: A Community Effort to Save Lives"
Speaker: Thomas DeVito T.A. Manhattan organizer
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

Tuesday, May 20, 6-8pm
Topic to be announced
Speaker: TBA
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 April 12, 2014.