Road Forks

National Links: Putin’s Cities and the Topography of Wealth

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.

Topography of Wealth: Nick Underwood, a Cartography and GIS student at University of Wisconsin – Madison, assembled a sobering visualization of income inequality in Los Angeles. He uses topography to display the city of 58 billionaires and some 58,000 homeless individuals, with taller tracts representing higher incomes. Using 2017 census data, he draws attention to the county’s westside, where communities like Beverly Hills become high plateaus of wealth. (Nick Underwood)

Good and Bad Congestion: Congestion is universally seen as bad, but there can also be good congestion. Robert Steuteville posits that some congestion can be a symbol of economic health, citing a study suggesting a positive association between congestion and productivity. In short, bad congestion is where people want to go through, but good congestion is where people want to be. Steuteville provides methods to increase the good congestion while reducing the bad, like limiting off-street parking and improving transit. (Robert Steuteville | Public Square)

Putin’s Redevelopment Plan: The Kremlin has dedicated billions of dollars to modernize Russian cities. $31.7 billion has gone to Moscow alone, though $1.5 billion has been spent annually to transform rail, streets, and squares in smaller cities. These cities have been depopulating as residents move to Moscow, but the hope is to make them more attractive again and provide an alternative for those priced out of larger cities. In a survey of 14 global cities, Muscovites reported higher-than-average satisfaction with their urban improvements. (Leonid Ragozin | Bloomberg)

Fixing Road Forks: Forks in street grids create dangerous intersections whose intersections must operate with too many phases. Rerouting and condensing traffic flow yields less points of conflict and opens up space for public parks and plazas. Jeff Speck provides graphics and a video of the redesign of Boston’s Kenmore Square. This “very forky” five-way intersection that may soon transition from a complex intersection unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists to a public space accessible to all users. (Jeff Speck | Streetsblog USA)

Rising Western Skyline: The Western US has often been emblematic of post-war suburban sprawl, but as its populations skyrocket, so do its downtowns. As larger cities like Denver and Seattle prepare for their first towers at a 1000 feet tall, even more humble towers in smaller cities as Long Beach or Sacramento similarly create dramatic new figures in their skylines. Architects and planners believe that soon these skylines will rival the older, taller cities of the East, though skeptics fear this symbols of economic prosperity signify gentrification. (Scott Wilson + Aaron Steckelberg | Washington Post)

Quote of the Week

“For travel bloggers and photographers of all tiers, especially those shooting in residential areas, any sense of shared etiquette stops at simply obeying the law and, if you’re really courteous, abiding by the direct requests of property owners.”

Alexandra Marvar in Curbed talking about travel writers and who owns the rights to private building facades when pictures are ubiquitous.

This week on the podcast Laura Loe of Share the Cities in Seattle talks about driving a bus and housing activism.

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