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 streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the DC region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
Towards a universal basic mobility: Alex Roy is the founder of the Human Driving Association, but instead of fighting against an autonomous future, he’s fighting to give all modes of transportation a chance. His idea of a universal basic mobility is focused on giving people equal opportunities for movement, and breaking down the existing silos that exist between public and private transportation. (Alex Roy | 2025AD)
When buttons don’t work: The world is full of buttons that don’t really work and are mostly a placebo. From crosswalks to elevators and even thermostats, have you ever pushed a button and wonder why it didn’t respond right away? Turns out, even buttons that don’t do anything can still provide a psychological benefit. (Jacopo Prisco | CNN)
The keys to successful urban space: After public spaces such as parks and plazas are reconstructed, many of them remain empty and lifeless. But this doesn’t have to be the case. The best way to bring a public space alive is ‘activation,’ such as food trucks or live music. A study in Charlotte even found that activating a government plaza made users’ more supportive of government. (Meredith L. Sadin | CityLab)
Pushing back on disruptive transportation technology: San Francisco recently started a scooter pilot program that only included two of 10 applicants. Local officials are hoping that they’ve figured out how to deal with tech companies that just drop vehicles on the streets without permission. Others are worried that some caps go too far, and that while regulation is important, this might be too close to a “nanny state.” (Carolyn Said | San Francisco Chronicle)
E-commerce spurs delivery innovations: More and more people are shopping online, but with more deliveries comes more complicated supply chain logistics. This is leading to tech innovations to deal with navigation and distribution, including GPS, transaction and movement data, and new real estate-like lockers. (Eric Brown | MIT News)
Quote of the Week
“Smith’s [rent gap] insights provide an explanation for British urban policy in Docklands during the 1980s and beyond as incentives and tax breaks were provided to real estate developers to invest in run-down industrial areas; in those years self-styled urbanists such as Katz were putting forward the value of placemaking as a rationale and justification for these often controversial approaches.”
Anna Minton in Places Journal, discussing how placemaking has often been the justification for gentrification processes in England.
This week’s podcast features Nancy Andrews, former CEO of the Low Income Investment Fund discussing community investment strategies