National Links: New Zealand’s Lead

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.

New Zealand first to fund pop up bike lanes, widened sidewalks: Cities around the world are keeping residents indoors to combat the coronavirus, with the caveat that they are allowed to get fresh air, access to nature, and exercise if they follow physical distancing protocols. To address the issue of more people outside with limited space, New Zealand has become the first country to provide funding to make tactical urbanism and active transportation a national policy. (Carlton Reid | Forbes)

Atlanta air quality still suffering: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, cities around the world are seeing bluer skies and reduced emissions. Atlanta Georgia is seeing reduced emissions as well but air quality sensors are still registering at levels similar to this time last year, potentially because of the cooler evening weather. (Sean Keenan | Curbed Atlanta)

Potential futures for the auto industry revealed: As the quarantine orders in Wuhan China were lifted last week, a surge of residents went out to purchase new cars. Analysts believe some of this is pent up demand, but under the surface, there is a worry that those who can afford to will avoid transit and more sustainable means of travel. Here in the US, used car auction sales are flattening and transit agencies hit hard by sales tax reductions and ridership collapse like UTA in Salt Lake City believe they won’t be on track until 2023. (James Brasuell | Planetizen)

Rents, income will fall in the coming economy: Housing prices and rents have been overheating the last few years as many have struggled to find homes. More than a third of homes in the US are rented but economists expect those prices to fall as the economy weakens and more people double up in housing to save money or go homeless. AirBnB hosts are also considering putting their units on the long term rental market as travel dries up and while many residents in cities will stay. (Dennis Romero | NBC News)

Connecting big data and urbanism: In a recent paper, University of Southern California professor Geoff Boeing argues that raw data has no inherent value and that in order to create something legible by the public, data must be compressed, organized and displayed in a valuable way. Using open street data and a python program, he shows how using existing street networks and building footprints can lay the groundwork for informal settlements to formalize street networks without interrupting residents’ lives. (Belén Maiztegui | ArchDaily)

Quote of the Week

“Because of the reduction in car traffic, we will be closing off a number of streets so that bicyclists and pedestrians can spread out and take in fresh air safely on Oakland streets, free of cars.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in Curbed SF announcing several streets will be closed to through traffic as the city opens up 74 miles of safe streets.

This week on the podcast, we’re back at TRB in January chatting with Professor David Levinson about the problems with academic journals and his book the 30 Minute City.

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