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
April 1, 2015      

How Melbourne Kept and
Enhanced its Tram System

Dear Friends of Auto-Free New York:

New York City can benefit from learning how other, more progressive and sophisticated cities have in recent years noticeably cut car use while enhancing their public transport systems. An outstanding example is Melbourne, Australia, whose tramway system, billed as the world's largest, would be a great model for NYC.

In one of its biggest planning mistakes ever, NYC dismantled its tram system, then the largest in the world, over several decades, from the '30s thru the mid-'50s, in part because of highway-mad Robert Moses, and in part because then-Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia thought that streetcars "got in the way" of autos in the city. Well, Fiorello was right. By removing trolleys, and substituting slower and less appealing buses, he transformed the cityís streets into a car-choked nightmare. Melbourne chose a different path.

At our April 21 Auto-Free NY/vision42 meeting, our keynote speaker will be extra-special guest Ms. Kinsie Hope, manager of Local Connections, Outer Eastern Melbourne, a department of Victoria State, Australia. Please plan to attend, 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

Other topics to be discussed at our April meeting:
   1. Ongoing talks with our economic consultants about updating the vision42 economic studies of 2004-2007.
   2. Need to follow up on recommendations made by Council members Dan Garodneck and Cory Johnson for vision42 regarding the need to hire professionals to lead community and business outreach.
   3. Status report due on efforts to advance IRUMís regional rail initiative, a plan to remake the three commuter rail systems serving the NY-NJ-CT metropolitan area to function as a single regional rail system with frequent service, integrated fares and through-running service. For info on IRUMís regional rail plan,
   4. Some positive feedback, but no specific date as yet, has come from the office of City Council Chair of the Transportation Committee Ydanis Rodriguez for a vision42 presentation. Maps by Paul DiMaria will be added to the current Powerpoint presentation that will highlight the potential for other light rail lines throughout the five boroughs. Paul has developed a multi-layered map that will show the 20 NYC bus lines that are good candidates for conversion to light rail, as listed by Paul Gowkawski.
   5. Followup needed on the suggestions made at our March meeting, to find a new venue for exhibiting winning designs from the vision42 urban design competition, such as: Murphy (Labor) Institute of CUNY, 25 W 43rd St., 12th Fl. (labor leader Ed Ott gave Jeff Gold tentative a OK); Bread & Roses Gallery, Ground Fl., 310 W 43rd St.; Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (south of GCT). We should also aim to expand use of the on-line display:, possibly on Times Square billboards.
   6. UPZONING AROUND GCT: At City Hall hearings Feb 4 and April 15 on DCPís proposed upzoning at Vanderbilt Avenue, remarks in statements by George and Roxanne refer to a request made in 2009 by Manhattan Community Boards 4, 5, and 6 to develop a comprehensive street use plan for Midtown Manhattan, which must come first before any upzoning in this already highly crowded part of the city.
George Haikalis, Chair          

P.S. ROXANNE'S FORTHCOMING BOOK: Also hoped for soon will be the publication of vision42 principal Roxanne Warren's 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.

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, April 21, 6-8pm
Melbourne's Expanding Tram System
Speaker: Kinsie Hope, Manager, Local Connections, Outer Eastern Melbourne, Victoria
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

Tuesday, May 19, 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 April 18, 2015.