National Links: The 30 Minute Constant

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.

30 Minutes Shape Urban History: In 1994, Cesare Marchetti, an Italian physicist, coined the Marchetti Constant, which states that people generally have been willing to commute for a half-hour, one way, from their homes each day. Until the Industrial Revolution, cities were mainly only traveled on foot, and so cities did not spread for much more than a mile from the urban core but by the 19th century, urban steam rail systems started taking shape, and cities generally had a radius of about ten miles. Cities are much bigger now, but people still generally love to commute for a half-hour. (Jonathan English | CityLab)

Gjemnessund BridgeNorway’s $47B Coastal Highway: Norway’s Highway E39 runs along the west coast, connecting Kristiansand in the south to Trondheim in the north. The entire highway is about 1,100 kilometers. Currently, it takes 21 hours to drive the highway due to seven ferry crossings to pass cars over Norway’s dramatic fjords. Norway hopes to make the highway ferry-free and reduce travel times. The B1M has prepared a video full of 3D renderings to demonstrate the ambitious designs for undersea tunnels to floating bridges being proposed, or even already under construction, to bring Highway E39 across Norway’s fjords. (Brandon Donnelly)

De Blasio Shows His ‘Car Guy’ Colors: Mayor Bill de Blasio upset safe streets advocates when he publicly mulled the question of helmets for bike share and license requirements for New York City bicyclists. Many advocates question the mayor’s commitment to reduce street fatalities. De Blasio was previously scrutinized for considering removing the beloved Times Square pedestrian plazas in 2015, as well as in 2018 when he said he was open to ticketing pedestrians who walk while texting. (Dana Rubinsteain and Erin Durkin | Politico)

Why You’d Want to Live in a ‘Soft City’: A soft city is one that supports relationships between people and the places around them by breaking down traditional silos. The term comes from notion of the “grind” and “harshness” typically applied to urban life. In his new book Soft City, David Sim proposes ways to remedy the strict organization of human activity in modern cities. Sim notes that good cities have not just density, but diversity. Such cities are built on relationships and human interaction, and soft cities are a way to achieve them. (Eillie Anzilloti | Fast Company)

Where Code Meets Concrete: Cities worldwide are deploying new, networked urban tech, and urban data upstart companies often justify their efforts by promising the fast, efficient barrier- or seam-free delivery of goods and services. From transportation to law enforcement, data analytics and algorithms are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in every facet of urban life but there is friction between the digital world and the physical infrastructure that must be tied into places and surfaces that are effected by the elements and the physical environment in which they operate. (Shannon Mattern | Urban Omnibus)

Quote of the Week

“It was always a ‘wouldn’t it be great’ project, but now it’s a ‘look what we’re actually doing’ project. Only now are we beginning to fulfill that promise.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg  in Curbed talking about the potential of the 244 acre Railyards project just outside of downtown.

This week on the podcast, Camron Gorguinpour, global senior manager for electric vehicles at WRI’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities joins us to talk about the potential of electric bus implementation.

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