National Links! Boulevards, Dive Bars, and Moratoriums

US mapEvery day at The Direct Transfer we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list.  At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the DC region.  They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.  We wanted to try it out here to fill up a Sunday afternoon, but let us know what you think in the comments.

No boulevard for you: There’s a movement to turn Little Rock’s I-30 corridor into a multimodal boulevard, but Arkansas’ highway department is running a public “education” campaign against the idea. Part of the message is that 1-30 as a boulevard would be less safe, with worse congestion, and that widening the corridor to ten lanes would not attract more drivers. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

Everybody won’t know your name: In cities that are increasing in price, dive bars are disappearing at a rapid clip. Even Detroit is not immune. (Money Magazine)

Peak Millennial?: 1990 was the peak year for Millennial births and now those babies are reaching their 25th birthday. That’s the age typically when people start thinking about their long term prospects so the urban party might be over. Demographer Dowell Myers argues cities are popular and expensive, which might change how we think about this group. (Urban Edge)

Unwilling to walk: Commuters to downtown Tampa are frustrated that parking isn’t close enough to the office. But local real estate broker Anne-Marie Ayers says the problem is that people just don’t want to walk a little longer from their cars, or try carpooling or biking to get to the office. (Tampa Tribune)

Not in my back… turnpike: A Miami area suburb’s homeowners association wants fewer people traveling on Florida’s Turnpike, and its board passed a resolution to stop building more developments in an area west of it. The building limits would be lifted once traffic moves more smoothly along the road. (Miami Community Newspapers)

Bus and bike priority: Copenhagen’s traffic control devices are getting sophisticated. The city is spending $8.9 million on 380 signals that will sense and prioritize bikes and buses. The hope is to cut bus travel times by up to 20%. Bikes will move through faster too, with travel times cut by 10%. (Wired Magazine)

Quote of the Week

“Cities and their transportation networks have grown to the point where they have reached a level of complexity that is beyond human processing capability to navigate around them.” – A University of Oxford professor on a study about how transportation maps in large cities with huge networks baffle human brains.

Crossposted at Greater Greater Washington

4 thoughts on “National Links! Boulevards, Dive Bars, and Moratoriums

  1. Janne

    This is the starting point for my Sunday morning reading.

    I heard from several people at the writers workshop yesterday that they love the Sunday Summary, and this holds similar promise. Thanks for posting here, Jeff.

  2. Matthew

    This Quote of the Week is interesting.

    (Full paper available here:

    I am inclined to agree with the commenter on the Guardian site, who said: “I don’t know of any journey(s) in a any city where I would be required to comprehend anywhere near 250 stops. And how can you possibly sanction this story without any of the methodology behind it?”

    Another commenter pointed out that you simply can’t trust mathematicians and physicists on a subject that is all about cognitive psychology. Indeed, this paper is purely theoretical, and does not appear to provide any additional insights over the experimental work cited therein.

    In particular, the authors’ insight that we need hand-held computers capable of AI route planning is laughably/painfully anachronistic:

    “Our analysis highlights the fact that humans need to integrate an excessive amount of information for urban navigation, and we therefore need to seek new solutions that will help them navigate in megacities”

  3. Matthew

    The authors attacked the problem without knowledge of urbanism or UX, and they came up with some useless conclusions.

    Had the authors possessed relevant expertise, they might have asked, “what are the characteristics of successful transit systems and successful route planning apps?”

    The answers (directly applicable to Minnesota) are:

    Successful transit systems have maps. Large printed maps at every station. Both abstract maps and geographically accurate maps. System maps for transit-route planning and area maps for walking-route planning (and discoverability of area businesses).

    Successful route planning apps rely on low headways (3-6 minutes between trains) or real time tracking data (like Incidentally, when either of these are present, third party app (like google maps) can be used very easily.

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