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: January 20
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!

42nd Street Design Competition -Geo Haikalis
Above, George Haikalis at the opening reception in November 2014, for the 42nd Street design competition at the Conde Nast building in Times Square.

 Letter from George
January 1, 2015      

Highlights of the vision42
Design Competition

Dear Friends of Auto-Free New York:

Our agenda for our January 20 joint vision42/Auto-Free NY meeting is as follows:

1. Light Rail - Superstar of Urban Planning: Roxanne Warren and George Haikalis will summarize the results of a forum held on December 30, and show some of the extraordinary slides prepared by the winning team of our recent vision42 design competition. The forum, at One Bryant Park's skyscraper lobby, featured a presentation by the winning team: KB Architecture from France. Team members present were Alfred Peter, Charles Bové and Karen Bloch Listowsky, who have all had many years of experience designing and actually building light rail in France, Germany and Jerusalem.

2. Follow up on exhibiting winning designs, now temporarily in storage, at new venues; and expand use of the on-line display: .

3. Efforts to engage key members of the competition jury to help advance vision42.

4. Paul Gawkowski, former MTA planner and our guest speaker in December, brought to the December 30 forum his list of twenty NYC bus lines that are best candidates for conversion to light rail. The list was of considerable interest to City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, as he is concerned with a five-borough approach to transit improvement. The challenge for the working group is to make the case that advancing vision42 will stimulate citywide interest in light rail lines for each of the five boroughs.

5. Outreach to Steering Committee on East Midtown Rezoning, led by Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilman Dan Garodnick, reminding them of the need for river-to-river crosstown transit planning.

6. Remind city officials of (unanswered) 2009 requests to NYC DOT by Midtown Manhattan Community Boards 4, 5and 6 for a comprehensive street use plan.

7. Progress report on efforts to interest the city’s new leadership in IRUM’s Regional Rail and Manhattan toll initiatives. These can be linked to the Mayor’s call for affordable housing and a more equitable city.

8. Scheduling vision42 meetings with elected officials, civic organizations, and real estate developers. Pursuing contacts with holders of strategic state-wide offices. Follow up on repeat contacts we should make.

Plan to attend our next meeting of Auto-Free NY/vision42 working group. The meeting will be on Tuesday, January 20, 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. THE LATE JOHN ROZANKOWSKI: On a sad note: a longtime champion for better public transit, John Rozankowski, who was a guest speaker at one of our Auto-Free NY meetings a few years ago, passed away late in September. Details about John can be found at: We will miss him.
     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, January 20, 6-8pm
Highlights of the vision42 Design Competition
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

Tuesday, February 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 Jan 17, 2015.