National Links: A Soul Crushing Urban Commute

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 D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Should Transit Shut Down during protests? Over the past weekend, as protests increased, many transit agencies chose to shut down service fearing safety of their drivers, workers as well as other passengers. Emergency decisions are always challenging but this one left many residents stranded, angering riders and advocates alike. For this reason the agencies and planners must derive a contingency plan about service change so people can get to where they are going. (Jarrett Walker | Human Transit)

A soul crushing suburban commute: Suburban living is not a new invention, but the suburb to work commute remains harmful not only for the environment but also has social and political ramifications; urban decay, white flight, housing market bubbles, to name a few. While it is tough to completely do away with the suburbs, which are now ingrained as existing development patterns, the coronavirus lockdown has shown us that we can better align living and working to cause less pressure on the environment, society and politics. (Elie Mystal | The Nation)

A moment of reckoning for planning profession: As protests around the country ramp up, planners must consider the role that they have played in perpetuating institutional racism. At this unique intersection of public health crisis and society reform, planners must focus on equitable design, but at the same time look back at successes that also perpetuated institutional racism. (James Brasuell | Planetizen)

Closed roads show us how parks were originally designed and used: As Coronavirus lockdowns have cleared up streets of cars and other forms of traffic, design in its truest form is revealing itself in various spaces such as Tower Grove Park in St. Louis. These changes have shown us a historic perspective to how spaces were designed to be used and as the lockdowns ease, people are reconsidering superfluous roads and how might we maintain slow streets post-pandemic. (Chris Naffziger | St. Louis Magazine)

Our infrastructure is being built for a climate that is already gone: Our infrastructure including sewers, drains and more are designed based on past climate data and are likely to fail as the climate continues to dramatically change, through floods and other disasters. A consistent problem faced by planners and designers reveals itself around the concept of stationarity, and the challenge of updating infrastructure design based on how it interacts with changing environment. (Shayla Love | Vice)

Quote of the Week

“One of the dangers of this moment for white counterparts in placemaking is to be invigorated to “do something” instead of just picking up the best practices, voices and research of women/black ppl/white allies from the last 5+ years and put that work to work. It is important that we amplify, fund and implement the work of people and organizations that have already spoken loudly on the intersection of place and race. With that in mind I’ve decided to interrupt your lunchtime to do some amplifying…”

Keith Benjamin, Charleston South Carolina’s Director of Transportation and Traffic on Twitter discussing the need to amplify work that’s already going on.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Germaine Haleguoa, University of Kansas Associate Professor of Media and Film, to talk about her book The Digital City. I highly highly recommend this one.

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