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.
The 30 year war on the homeless: Last year Austin took a step back from criminalizing the homeless, curtailing some older laws and regulations including panhandling and camping. The move broke a vicious cycle that existed for years and in turn has revealed the larger history of homelessness in the United States. (Gus Bova | Texas Observer)
High speed rail plans move forward across the country: This last week high speed rail moved forward in North Carolina and Texas. The North Carolina Department of Transportation received a federal grant to purchase right of way for a passenger line that would run from Raleigh NC to Richmond VA. At the same time, a planned passenger line between Houston and Dallas recieved important approvals from the Federal Railroad Administration to move forward. (Richard Stradling | News and Observer & Dug Begley | Houston Chronicle)
Europe’s blue bikes: Micromobility companies have been popping up all over the United States to provide people with trips. But now a company in the Netherlands is proving a new way of providing bikes, by the month. The service fee includes free flat tire fixes and a full replacement bike if yours needs more repairs. It just started out as a service for students with 20 bikes, but now Swapfiets has 35,000 members in Amsterdam alone. (Nate Berg | Fast Company)
Cash strapped towns sue streaming companies for taxes: As more people cut the cord on cable service, streaming over the internet entertainment such as Netflix and Disney+ are taking off. But cities feel like these companies should be paying taxes similar to their cable utility predecessors and are looking to courts to decide if that’s possible. The companies believe they are not video service providers as written in laws and thus devoid of responsibility. (Eriq Gardner | The Hollywood Reporter)
A nation of walls and racial barriers: Walls, barricades, and fences often serve to psychologically and physically separate marginalized communities of color from white people in the urban built environment. Designer Chat Travieso takes a look at the long history of these walls and how they were erected as a physical manifestation of racist policy goals. (Chat Travieso | Places Journal)
Vanya Srivastava contributed to these summaries.
Quote of the Week
“If state and local governments are condensing their balance sheets, they’re laying people off. They’re cutting spending on equipment. Capital spending is cut early during downturns. All of that is sucking demand right out of the economy.”
Amanda Page-Hoongrajo in City Monitor discussing how cities and the economy are going to suffer absent federal support.
This week on the podcast, we celebrate the 300th episode of Talking Headways by sharing a chapter from our audiobook production of 1909’s Town Planning in Practice by Raymond Unwin.