Cars on an urban street

National Links: Pandemic Behavior Changes

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.

If we had better transit, I wouldn’t need this car: When buying a car cuts down travel times and opens access to more of a city, that is a failure of planners and leaders who could be making many more people’s lives better by providing more robust active transportation including transit. Writer Dharna Noor laments the improvements to her mobility that purchasing a car during the pandemic created because of poor policy and service. (Dharna Noor | Earther)

A more equitable transit network: TransitCenter’s research team used transit service data and location information to develop the Transit Equity Dashboard, a map tool that measures how well transit networks in six US cities connect people who, through segregation and discrimination, have marginal access to the jobs, services, and amenities they need to thrive. Using data from transit agencies and the U.S. Census, the dashboard illuminates disparities in transit access. (Ben Fried | TransitCenter)

The stickiness of pandemic behavior change: It’s difficult to change human behavior, but a disruption on the scale of the current pandemic has the potential to bring about long term behavioral changes. Using responses from 7,600 surveys, researchers took a look at whether pandemic related behavior changes such as work, travel, and shopping are likely to persist in the coming years and found a propensity towards more telecommuting, less business travel, an accelerated growth of online purchasing, and increases in walking and biking. (Deborah Salon et al. | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

Net zero might be the wrong target: Power generation is determined not by the total amount of energy used during the year but rather peak demands at certain times a day. It’s because of this that Net Zero buildings are not the panacea they are often presented as for reducing emissions. They are not resilient to power outages, don’t account for transportation energy, and use more embodied carbon than less ‘efficient’ buildings. (Lloyd Alter | Tree Hugger)

Charlotte gets rid of single family zoning: In a 6-5 vote, Charlotte city council has passed its 2040 Comprehensive Plan after a long four-month deliberation. The most discussed part of the plan was a change to single family zoning that would allow more housing units on a single parcel. While contentious during the development process, the plan ultimately passed and now faces implementation. (Alison Kuznitz | Charlotte Observer)

Quote of the Week

“You can’t bulldoze your way to a massive infrastructure project without community input. You cannot bulldoze your way through the Civil Rights Act.”

Harris County Texas Commissioner Lina Hidalgo in the Houston Chronicle discussing the Federal Highway Administration’s request to TXDOT to stop planning for the IH-45 freeway expansion through downtown.

This week on the podcast, Ben Holland, a senior associate at the Rocky Mountain Institute joins the show to talk EVs and climate change.

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