Right of Way



CONTACTS: Charles Komanoff: 212 260-5237 (work); 212 2193484 (home)

Michael Smith: 212 913-1760 (work); 212 316-1850 (home)


Newly released U.S. Census data show that 54% of New York City households do not own or lease a motor vehicle (down a scant 3% from 1990). Manhattanites are the most car-free; 78% of households there do not have a vehicle. In the Bronx, the car-free share of households is 60%. Brooklyn is also majority car-free, with 54%. Only Queens and Staten Island have car-free minorities: 34% and 20%, respectively.

"It's astounding how much of our municipal resources are dedicated to automobile travel, when car owners are a minority. It's really a theft of public space," said Right of Way member Michael Smith. "All New Yorkers suffer from car pollution, noise and especially the real danger of just trying to cross the street -- so that a privileged few can gain some questionable convenience. It's not just a quality of life issue -- it's a matter of equity."

Outlining his traffic platform last July, then-candidate Michael Bloomberg singled out automobiles as the least deserving mode of transportation, stating:

Our priorities? In order: Police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances have to be better able to respond.... Walking must be made safer, easier and faster as it's a part of every single trip.... Mass transit has to be made an increasingly attractive alternative to private cars. Commercial deliveries... must be made more efficient. And for those who insist on driving, to the extent possible, the traffic must flow.

Transportation economist and Right of Way member Charles Komanoff called on Mayor Bloomberg to build on the success of Mayor Giuliani's ban on single-occupant vehicles entering parts of Manhattan during rush hour. "East River bridge tolls would help. Vigilant enforcement of traffic laws is absolutely essential." Right of Way's landmark 1999 Killed by Automobile report showed that most pedestrian fatalities are the fault of drivers, most often from failing to yield right of way in crosswalks.

Right Of Way is a pedestrian rights group based in New York City.


Census Data - car ownership by borough:

Year 2000 Census

Year 1990 Census

Bloomberg Statement

Killed By Automobile (comprehensive analysis of NYC pedestrian fatalities)

Cars Suck! Research