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 D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
Rising Prices Threaten Shared Mobility: On-demand services of all kinds have been significantly subsidized by investors as a means of attracting users with low prices, but those subsidizes are ending as companies like Uber and Lyft are now publicly traded companies. However, as these costs rise, some commuters are going back to using their own bikes and scooters to get around. While the rise of the sharing economy made it easier to go without owning things like cars and bikes, the venture capital investments that funded it are disappearing. With looming warnings of recession, shared mobility companies must find a way to compensate for their loss of these subsidies. (Alana Semuels | Time)
Startup Puts Tiny Homes in Backyards: Right now, building an accessory dwelling unit is a quite a hassle, with upfront costs such as talking to your city about permits and the need to consult a good builder to handle the bureaucracy. To remedy this, Rent the Backyard, a Bay Area-based startup is meeting with homeowners to begin the ADU process for them. For half the revenue from rent for thirty years, it will also cover ongoing maintenance of the ADU; after thirty years, full ownership goes to the property owner. All the tiny apartments built will be rented at fair market value. The startup estimates 300,000 backyard homes could be added to the Bay Area. (Adele Peters | Fast Company)
Transit Service Density and Access Keys to Climate Change Fight: One of the most touted solutions for reducing auto emissions in cities is better public transit, but some experts are skeptical that building new transit alone is the solution. New research posits that a good measure of a city’s traffic burden is the fraction of residents that choose to drive rather than use transit as one economist noted that luring drivers onto transit reduces congestion but may also lead to induced demand. Thus, transit must become so accessible that it is more attractive and convenient than driving if the world is to decrease its auto emissions. Transit ridership benefits are then not a function of urban density alone, but transit accessibility inside the service area. (Mark Buchanan | Bloomberg)
How Lighting Affects Mood: Light influences sleep, mood, wakefulness and even processes like digestion and internal temperature control through the body’s circadian rhythm. Architects and interior designers encourage lighting that mimics natural light, with brighter lights in the day and dimmer ones at night. Light color and tone matter too. The body keeps awake in response to blue light, which our phones and computers emit, so while checking an email before bed is not ideal, blue light is beneficial meeting rooms, industrial kitchens, and even factories, where high concentration is expected. (Eduardo Souza | ArchDaily)
How Segregation Caused Your Traffic Jam: In the 1950s and 1960s, local governments often routed new Interstate highways though low-income communities of color. Not only did these new expressways displace these communities, they served as stark boundaries segregating white communities from communities of color. Mayor Bill Hartsfield of Atlanta in the 1950s openly touted Interstate 20 as a boundary between black and white neighborhoods. Consequently, over 100,000 white Atlanta residents left in the 1970s for the suburbs on these expressways, and since then traffic congestion has steadily increased. Today, transit is the most reasonable solution to its traffic woes, but Atlanta’s suburbs continue to fight MARTA expansions, fifty years after Interstates were set with an eye to segregation leaving Atlanta with an unending mess. (Kevin M. Kruse | New York Times Magazine)
Quote of the Week
“We’re seeing a lot of improvement in our utility coordination, too. Because we’re having these conversations earlier and having everybody around the table earlier, we’re seeing what improvements they have planned for their water system or their electric system, where their pipes are being dug out, and what their public works departments are planning.”
PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards in Governing Magazine on getting more input early on in the transportation planning and coordination process.
This Week on the Podcast, Monica Holmes, placemaking manager for the City of Charlotte talks about the innovations in their new TOD zoning ordinance including unlimited heights in some districts and their point system for community benefits.