National Links: Beware the Walled Garden

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.

There’s danger in creating “walled gardens” in transportation: A “walled garden” is a technology platform that limits the options available to a user to ones curated by the company (think Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s App Store). David Zipper argues there is a real danger of limiting transportation choice when ride hailing companies, for example, create walled gardens that could push out other options such as public transit. (David Zipper | Fast Company)

Ride-hailing totals in Seattle revealed: Ride-hailing companies are notorious for hiding their numbers, but new information from Seattle provides some insight. Two of the largest companies, Uber and Lyft, provide on average 91,000 rides per day in King County, up from 25,000 trips in 2015. Other transportation systems in the region, such as light rail, carry 77,000 trips per day. The interesting part is that more than half of these rides originate in the zip codes that make up downtown. (David Gutman | Seattle Times)

Charging scooters to use streets could be a template for charging cars: Many cities that have seen an influx of electric scooters have developed systems to charge them to use public streets and sidewalks. Current schemes can be modeled after what cities charge restaurants for sidewalk seating. But in the future, this initial pricing test could lead to charging private cars and perhaps autonomous vehicles for using roads. (Aarian Marshall | Wired)

Making defensive architecture more inviting: Bollards are often put in front of buildings to defend against vehicle-based terrorist attacks, but they can be ugly and uninviting for urban streetscapes premised on being open. Architect Beatriz Pero Giannini thinks he has a solution. He’s created various types of furniture (including the rocker, the slider, and the wobbler) for the top of bollards that invite people to sit together and create positive interactions. (Katharine Schwab | Fast Company)

Amazon’s search for a second headquarters split: After months of speculation, a new report from the Wall Street Journal found that Amazon will be choosing more than one place for the location of their second headquarters. Current projections are for Crystal City in the Washington region and Long Island City in New York. This revalation has prompted think pieces and commentary from Brookings, Rolling Stone, and an interesting one from the New York Times about “Superstar Cities.” (Gaby Del Valle | Vox)

Quote of the Week

“I feel a lot of the discussions around transit take as its major metric of success the opening of new rail lines. I think the definition of ‘success’ is you made a network that makes it easy to get around the city.”

Christof Spieler in Wired talking about his new book Trains, Buses, People and the definition of successful transit.

This week on the podcast, Dr. Kari Watkins of Georgia Tech discusses the evolving transit experience and importance of dedicated lanes and real time data.

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