The  “Changing New York” series, which explores the most pressing policy issues facing the new de Blasio administration continued at Roosevelt House. We kicked off the series in 2014 with a conversation on how to keep the city moving safely and efficiently — whether by bus, train, bicycle, on foot, or by car – and the policy debates most likely to shape the new mayor’s transportation agenda.

Jim O’Grady, transportation reporter of WNYC, hosted an evening featuring distinguished experts Nicole Gelinas, senior fellow of The Manhattan Institute; Owen Gutfreund, Hunter College associate professor of Urban Affairs and Planning; Paul Steely White, executive director, Transportation Alternatives; and Jeff Zupan, senior fellow, Regional Planning Association. – all of whom are in the forefront of the search for an answer to one of the most basic and pressing questions of urban life: How do we get from here to there?

Event hashtags: #rhevents #changingny #publictransit #bikenyc #walknyc

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Nicole Gelinas  

Nicole Gelinas is the Searle Freedom Trust Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Gelinas writes on urban economics and finance, municipal and corporate finance, and business issues. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and a member of the New York Society of Securities Analysts. Her most recent book, After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street and Washington, was published on November 2009 by Encounter Books. Gelinas was a business journalist for Thomson Financial in New York, where she covered the international syndicated-loan and private-debt markets, and also wrote a regular op-ed column for the New York Post. She has also written for the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Crain’s New York Business and National Review Online, among other publications. Gelinas graduated from the Newcomb College of Tulane University with a B.A. in English literature. She and her husband live in Manhattan.

Owen Gutfreund  

Owen Gutfreund, Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, is the author of Twentieth Century Sprawl: Highways and the Reshaping of the American Landscape (Oxford University Press, 2004), and was one of the authors of Robert Moses and the Modern City (W.W. Norton, 2007). His areas of specialization include transportation policy, suburbanization, sustainable development, public finance, and comparative urbanization (with an emphasis on cities in developing countries, as well as Canada and Australia). He was an Associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of New York City, and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Urban History. He is currently working on Cities Take Flight, a book about the impact of airports and air travel on American cities and towns. Before coming to Hunter, Guftreund was the director of the Barnard-Columbia Urban Studies Program. He is on the on the board of the Skyscraper Museum, was chair of the Columbia University Seminar on the City, and of the New York Council for the Humanities. Before earning his doctorate in history at Columbia, Owen was a Vice President at Lazard Freres & Co., where he worked in public finance, assisting states, cities, and government agencies in raising capital for a wide range of purposes.

Jim O'Grady  

Jim O’Grady is the transportation reporter for WNYC. He has also told stories on This American Life, Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen and The Moth podcast. He’s been a reporter for The New York Times; professor of journalism at NYU; and director of research for the Center for an Urban Future, a policy think tank. He’s also the author of two biographies: Dorothy Day: With Love For The Poor, and Disarmed & Dangerous: The Radical Lives and Times of Daniel and Philip Berrigan. He lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Paul Steely White  

Paul Steely White is the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, a non-profit advocacy group at the center of New York City’s bike-lane and public-space boom. Paul joined Transportation Alternatives in 2004 after seven years as projects director for the New York City based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy ( Founded in 1973, the mission of Transportation Alternatives ( is to reclaim New York City streets from the automobile and promote bicycling, walking and public transit as the best transportation alternatives.

Under Paul’s leadership, Transportation Alternatives has released dozens of groundbreaking studies on an array of urban planning issues and pioneered a host of new advocacy strategies such as citizen-led traffic enforcement, crowd-sourced parking studies and the playful (though questionably legal) transformation of car parking spaces to public parks. In the past four years, Transportation Alternatives dues-paying membership has doubled to 8,100, its staff has quadrupled to 20, and its base of subscribers, activists and volunteers has grown to 32,000. In 2010, T.A.’s priorities for New York City streets include a public bicycle share program similar to the popular Velib system in Paris.

Jeff Zupan  

Mr. Zupan serves as the Senior Fellow for Transportation for Regional Plan Association. He prepared the mobility element of RPA’s Third Regional Plan and is working with RPA on it Fourth Regional Plan, slated for 2016. He has been responsible for much of RPA’s planning and advocacy of transportation projects and policies related to transit, ferries highways, airports, pedestrian circulation, and the variety of topics including transportation financing, pricing, transportation systems and demand management.

Mr. Zupan’s consulting practice has brought him a wide range of assignments involving transportation planning with a strong focus on transit, travel demand, urban design and policy formulation for approximately four dozen clients.

Prior to initiating his consulting practice in 1990, Mr. Zupan was Director of Planning for NJ TRANSIT (ten years), where he directed the formulation and evaluation of that agency’s “new initiatives” program which directly led to over $2 billion of transit investments. He was Chief Planner for Regional Plan Association from 1969 to 1980, and prior to that he was a consultant.

Mr. Zupan is co-author of four major books, Urban Rail in America, Public Transportation and Land Use Policy, Urban Space for Pedestrians, and Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the New York Region’s Airports, and is the author of many reports and technical papers on a wide variety of transportation matters covering all modes of travel.

Mr. Zupan has taught graduate level transportation courses at five universities. He is a graduate of City College of New York (Civil Engineering) and Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (Transportation Engineering). Mr. Zupan is a registered Professional Engineer in New York State.


  • Streetfilms: NYC Streets Metamorphosis

    A video by Clarence Eckerson of Streetfilms that shows the remarkable before-and-after transformation of several streets and intersections in New York City over the last several years.

Getting Around: NYC Transportation Today and Tomorrow | Posted on January 14th, 2014 | Changing New York, Public Programs