National Links: Autonomous Cars, Blade Runner Urbanism, and Bad London Air

Every day at The Overhead Wire 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.

Selling autonomous vehicles to Wall Street: Auto makers and tech companies (as well as media outlets) are talking up self-driving cars like they are going to be a regular occurrence in the coming years. However, to be ready for prime time vehicles need to log 11 billion miles–which means we might be decades away from self driving cars. The fact is, research and development still needs to support from major funders–and that drives the hype. (Car and Driver)

Pushing back self driving rules: A Senate version of autonomous vehicle legislation hit the ground running this last week, but omitted heavy commercial vehicles such as buses and trucks in what was seen as a win for labor unions and truck drivers. But this might just be delaying the inevitable as self driving trucks are seen as the future even though a subset well paying non-college educated jobs might disappear for good. (Wired)

Blade Runner’s urban design impact: The 1982 film Blade Runner set a new standard for what people might expect from future cities. Dreary raining scenes with graffiti on video phones and an urban decay that could only be seen as the worst of the decline of urban cores in the late 1970s tempered our expectations for a bright and shiny techno future envisioned in most sci-fi fims. (Vox)

A day without cars in Paris: On October 1st, Paris shut down its streets to automobiles in an experiment to raise awareness about how alternative transportation works and what might be done to curb air pollution in the city.  Needless to say, the car lobby wasn’t too happy about the day, which saw $105 fines for driving without a good excuse (such as an emergency for visiting an elderly relative). 40 square miles of carlessness? I’d take it. (Engadget)

London’s bad air: New reporting on London’s air quality reports that 95 percent of residents in the city are 50 percent over the world standards for particulate matter every day.  Half of the pollution comes from areas outside the city. However, the main culprits seem to be tire and brake wear and tear, in addition to wood-burning stoves and construction. Part of the plan to address the problem is creating a low emissions zone and banning polluting vehicles inside the congestion cordon. (Guardian)

Quote of the Week

“I don’t feel like [the Section 8 housing lottery] is Las Vegas. We’re going to do the best we can to make sure that everybody has the opportunity and that it’s a fair system and a transparent system even if the end resources are very limited.”

Douglas Guthrie, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of LA discussing the 600,000 applications for an available 2,400 Section 8 housing vouchers. (Los Angeles Times)

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer