National Links: Gas Stations and Charging Futures

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.

America and the new pedestrian mall: As people begin going back to cities post-pandemic, officials will be deciding how to move forward with all of the open streets they created for social distancing. To keep them, there are lessons to learn from pedestrian malls from the 1970s and ’80s, most of which failed to stay closed to cars. They need to be in places with higher density, with a younger population, and longer isn’t necessarily better. (Stephan Schmidt | Bloomberg CityLab)

Do we really need 500K chargers?: Electric car proponents are arguing that we need 500,000 chargers to entice people to purchase electric cars and get over range anxiety. But Aaron Gordon argues that thinking is for a world that supposes we refuel vehicles as we had before. This, however, is not the case for most electric car owners who charge their cars at home, not at a fueling station. There should be targeted investments for longer trips, but we might be wasting money on infrastructure that isn’t needed. (Aaron Gordon | Motherboard)

The economics of gas stations: In 2020 gas stations in the United States sold enough fuel to fill up 187,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. But despite demand, the gasoline often is a loss leader for independent owners making just a 1.4 percent margin. To put that in perspective, grocery stores make 2.5 percent, and industry in general makes just under 8 percent. To make up for minimal revenue from gas, station owners make up the loss with convenience items, charging 200 percent markups for fountain drinks and 100 percent on ATM transactions. (Zachary Crockett | The Hustle)

Climate change’s big impact on banks: A new report from sustainability nonprofit Ceres states that climate change is a greater risk to bank solvency than the subprime mortgage crisis. But unlike the subprime mortgage crisis, it’s much harder for banks to divest from climate-threatened assets, especially in small communities that can get hit by one disaster. Banks can prepare by using the same risk assessments that insurance companies are starting to employ. (Saul Elbein | The Hill)

Time to dismantle the residential caste system: State and federal policies have perpetuated segregation in neighborhoods for decades, and many current policies perpetuate these gaps by pitting poor against rich for resources. The resulting residential caste system allows for geographic-based politics that divide rather than unite, argues Georgetown Law Professor Sheryll Cashin. It is also an opportunity to identify places that need support and investment. (Sheryll Cashin | Politico Magazine)

Quote of the Week

“Parisian public space is rare, precious, and very useful. It belongs to everyone, and it can’t be captured by one unique usage, which is the automobile. Today, still, 50 percent of public space in Paris is consecrated to the car, whether it’s on the road or parked. That represents just 10 percent of trips.”

— David Beilliard, Paris’ adjunct mayor for transportation and public space, discussing in Slate how Paris has taken space back for people

This week on the podcast, Professor Leslie Kern joins the show to talk about her book Feminist City. Feature photo by Ernest Ojeh on Unsplash.

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