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.
Google’s Walking Directions of the Future: Google is testing out its Visual Position System (VPS), designed to overcome the limitations of GPS in existing map based wayfinding. Utilizing the camera and machine learning, a mobile device can connect your location through the VPS and Street View data before showing an accurate augmented reality pathway on the phone’s screen. You can be part of Alpha testing if you are one of Google’s Local Guides at level 5 or above (which you can achieve by leaving many reviews and feedback on Google Maps). (David Nield | Gizmodo)
Mixed-Use Developments You’ll Never Leave: Nationwide, large mixed-use developments may contain enough uses that residents will never have to leave. Alan Ehrenhalt questions whether the latest trend in mixed-use means not just a couple of uses, but many under a single giant roof. Memphis’ Crosstown Concourse, 14 stories high in an old Sears warehouse, may make it possible to see a doctor, buy groceries, obtain child care, and go to the gym all without having to go outside. Although convenient, urban planners are concerned over the potential for loss of community in cities if the trend gains traction. Ehrenhalt posits that such Vertical Villages should be explored, but with scrutiny. (Alan Ehrenhalt | Governing)
Transit Unions Confront AVs: Unions are formally taking note of automation’s continuing threat on jobs. The Transportation Trades Department (TTD), which represents transit workers, has released a policy statement outlining its plans to address autonomous vehicles. The statement notes that between 700,000 and 1.7 million workers, including about 300,000 in transit, may lose their jobs to automation. Part of the 8-point plan calls for transit agencies to give employees advanced notice of any planned deployment of AV technology and for a human operator in all transit vehicles. Hopefully, the document could create a roadmap for human workers to coexist with automation. (Brian Merchant | Gizmodo)
Silicon Valley of Sea Level Rise: Virginia is hoping to create “the Google of climate change,” wherein cities and regions that best adapt to climate change and sea level rise will attract the engineering and architecture firms to help out. Virginia has one of the fastest acceleration rates of sea level rise in the country, but it is seeing it as an opportunity to lead in green infrastructure development. The commonwealth is creating a first-of-its-kind coastal resilience master plan, which can be used to move forward on solutions with companies. Virginia also cites the Netherlands as inspiration, where the Dutch have built skate parks that store flood water and placed water tanks in parking garages. (Gordon Rago | The Virginian-Pilot)
Rural America’s Housing Crisis: In the last decade, nearly a fourth of rural counties in the US have seen a sizable increase in the number of households spending at least half of their income on housing. Only two big-city counties (Bronx, NY, and Norfolk, VA) fell into the same category. Affordable housing is also in short supply as residents from economically revived areas are vying for rental housing. One reason for the rural housing crisis is the lack of federal incentives to include affordable units, with those remaining slowly expiring. With economic opportunities dwindling, some rural communities are seeing rents stay the same while household incomes drop. (Tim Henderson | Stateline)
Quote of the Week
“Using [congestion pricing] as a demand management tool that helps people have a reliable travel time is one of the best things we could do.”
Jillian Detweiler of the Oregon advocacy group Street Trust discussing congestion pricing in The American Prospect.
This week on the podcast Minneapolis Council President Lisa Bender talks about Minneapolis 2040, transportation and more!