National Links: How the Brain Navigates

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.

To end police violence, get rid of the traffic cop: Berkeley is the first city in the country to begin rethinking how police interact with the public, specifically around traffic violations. It happened in part because of a young local activist Darrell Owens, who thinks minimizing traffic interactions and designing better streets are key to reducing police brutality. (Brett Simpson | The Atlantic)

How our brains navigate cities: Researchers at MIT have found that humans don’t always navigate by the shortest path, but rather the path that keeps their destination in front of them. The human brain isn’t optimized to calculate the shortest path, so it relies on a strategy called vector-based navigation. It is thought that this adaptation might have allowed humans to multi-task. (Anne Trafton | MIT News)

The climate disaster is already here: The last time the Earth was this hot was around 125,000 years ago and the increase in temperature over the last century is unprecedented in known history. The climate disaster described by scientists is not coming, it’s already here. In this interactive piece, the authors describe what happens if the Earth warms another 2 degrees celcius including devastating heat waves and floods. (Oliver Milman, Andrew Witherspoon, Rita Liu, and Alvin Chang | The Guardian)

Experiment reduces the emissions for package delivery: A pilot program to deliver packages by E-bike in Seattle found that each package’s emissions were reduced 30%. Emissions counted included the truck trip to the microhub and deliveries on the bikes in the designated delivery zone. Additionally, researchers found that traffic was reduced by half as the bikes from the hub served more direct trips. (Kristin Toussaint | Fast Company)

Philadelphia remains segregated: Philadelphia’s neighborhoods remain one of the most segregated in the country according to an analysis of the 2020 Census by the Philadelphia Inquirer. In this interactive piece, the authors discuss how neighborhoods remain the same as the rest of the country becomes more integrated. To change this, researchers believe that reforming zoning and creating access to capital for those without can make a big difference. (Aseem Shukla, Michaelle Bond | Philadelphia Inquirer)

Quote of the Week

“It’s not a food desert, because the desert is a natural state. Food apartheid is where systems are in place that breed these types of things.”

Chicago activist Asiaha Butler discussing food access in National Geographic.

This week on the podcast, Duncan Hwang, interim co-director of the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon, and Gauri Rajbaidya, architect and senior associate at SERA Architects discuss the emerging Jade District in Portland.

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