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: September 16
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
Scion Boxian Smeli-Pootr
Subaru Deforester
Toyota Runovia
VW Smoggia

Be a patriot - use mass transit!

Conservancy Shuts Out the Public.

Above: HEY! YOU! GET OFF OF MY LAWN!: Here in Central Park, a Conservancy sign fences out the public in order to preserve "their" lawns. In the summer of 2014, the residents of an ever more crowded city flock to their parks, eager for open space and quiet, only to find more and more fences, restrictions, intrusive police patrols and commercial activities. Photo: W Fields, summer 2011.

 Letter from George
September 1, 2014     

Climate Change and
an Auto-Free New York

Dear Friends of Auto-Free New York:

Since its founding in 1989, Auto-Free NY has been calling for a comprehensive group of transport strategies that would reduce car use in the city. Now, 25 years later, with frighteningly massive carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere having gotten mainstream news coverage this September, people are beginning to notice that this might affect them too, since they after all, live on the same planet. Reducing car use has to be Item Number One on any climate activist's agenda, and in particular that means Americans, and even more so, New Yorkers, because they have actual transportation alternatives.

Through the years, AFNY has found it productive to partner with advocacy movements that share common concerns. Chief among these concerns is the enormous quantities of petroleum consumed to propel the billions of motor vehicles that dominate urban transport in cities throughout the planet. This combustion produces vast quantities of carbon dioxide which accumulate in the atmosphere and severely disrupt the climate, and scientists tell us this process is accelerating.

Then there's - an organization you may already know about - which has mounted an international effort to raise awareness of the need to decrease carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million -- in order that the world may avoid the degree of climate change that scientists warn will result in climate chaos worldwide. At our September 16 AFNY meeting, our guest speaker will be Amy Miller, US city and state divestment campaigner for, who will illuminate's Campaign to Divest NYC and State Pension Funds from Fossil Fuels.

Climate change requires collective action by all the globe’s occupants. Later this month, the UN will meet to prepare an action agenda for its General Assembly session that will be held next year to deal with this global crisis. Sunday, September 21 will be the People's Climate March in NYC, starting at 11am at Columbus Circle. At our AFNY meeting, we'll discuss possible plans for participating in this gathering. Part of the march route will be along 42nd Street between 6th and 11th Avenues, exactly where our vision42 plan advocates a key segment for a light rail line. Hundreds of organizations in the NY area are involved in the march, including Transportation Alternatives.

We will also review efforts to advance vision42 - an auto-free light rail boulevard on 42nd Street. IRUM is sponsoring a global digital design competition for vision42 to increase interest in this project, and more than 137 applications have already been received. The reception for the winner will be held at our November meeting.

Save the date for next month’s vision42/Auto-Free NY working group meeting on October 21, when David Gurin, a former NYC deputy commissioner for the DOT, who also was a planning commissioner in Toronto, will discuss People v. Cars: The Early History of a Movement.

Also, this fall we will celebrate the publication of vision42 principal Roxanne Warren's new book, "Rail and the City: Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint While Reimagining Urban Space" (MIT Press). And I invite you to watch on youtube a lively TV debate I was on back in April, 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!!
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.
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
(obit to appear here soon)

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, 2014:

Tuesday, Sept 16, 6-8pm
Climate Change, Auto-Free NY, and
Amy Miller, divestment campaign organizer,
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

Tuesday, October 21, 6-8pm
People v. Cars: The Early History of a Movement
Speaker: David Gurin, former NYC DoT deputy commissioner
TA Office, 127 West 26th Street, 10th Fl.

Tuesday, November 18, 6-8pm
Reception for Exhibit of Winner, vision42 Digital Design Competition
Lobby, Four Times Square

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 September 13, 2014.