National Links: A Changing Rush Hour

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.

A controversial way to increase public space in New York: New York architect Eran Chan wonders if Manhattan’s city blocks could be split open to provide more available public space. By breaking up some of the 100 foot blocks with courtyards, gardens, outdoor cafes and public space, the design could open the city for a new network of green space that improves the lives of residents. However, there has been some pushback on Twitter saying it would likely be easier to take parking spaces for the same purposes. (Nate Berg | Fast Company)

Rush hour could flatten out with remote work: Rush hour has been the bane of transportation planners existence since the industrial revolution. But during the pandemic, rush hour peaks flattened making many transportation experts wonder if rush hour will continue to be flat due to remote work. This could offer opportunities for better overall transit access, as agencies could schedule consistent service all day. (Emily Badger | New York Times)

Being mayor has become the worst job in politics: The past year has seen mayors struggle and become the scapegoat for urban problems like coronavirus lockdowns and racial justice crises. Mayors of the largest 25 cities are largely Democrats, but they are dealing with an unstable and fractured populace. These issues are making being mayor less and less desirable, and many mayors are calling it quits, opting not to run for re-election. (Alan Greenblat | Governing)

Local control creates regional and national problems: Local zoning control can have massive macroeconomic impacts by undermining federal fiscal policy and misallocating labor argues Will Wilkinson. Giving zoning power to states, over municipalities, could allow more projects to get built and build up housing stock, rather than wasting precious time on debate and local homeowner infighting. (Will Wilkinson | Model Citizen)

Electric vehicles won’t save us: The rhetoric around electric vehicles is far too focused on how EVs will prevent emissions and doesn’t begin to address the real problems of autocentricity such as sprawling land use patterns and unsustainable infrastructure. Rather, the “EV revolution” is merely replacing an evil with a lesser dupe, and preventing society from taking off the shackles of car dependency that make the U.S. economically, environmentally, socially and physically weak and disconnected. (Coby Lefkowitz | Marker on Medium)

Alissa Guther contributed to these summaries

Quote of the Week

“Both the settlement and the ISR are designed to get money into the community. There was concern about having people pay a fee to pollute and not give back to the communities bearing the brunt of the emissions.”

Attorney Adrian Martinez in Bloomberg CityLab discussing a recently negotiated environmental settement with a planned major California logistics center.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Sharon Roerty, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Maki Kawaguchi, a director at Gehl, to talk about the Inclusive Healthy Places Framework.

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