National Links: Road Design’s Role in Crashes

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.

The myth of human error in crashes: More people died on American roads in the first six months of 2021 than since 2006. Twenty-thousand people is a large number, but the myth is that human error is to blame for these deaths, not the systemic road and vehicle design flaws that make U.S. roads more dangerous. And the insidious and false statistic that 94 percent of crashes are human error continues to be pushed by those who should know better. (David Zipper | The Atlantic)

Electric vehicles aren’t a fix for carbon emissions: Research shows electrification of vehicles alone won’t be enough to keep global temperatures from rising less than 2 degrees Celsius. More cars in cities taking up space means less room for people and climate-calming nature. Fortunately, we know the solutions, including the promotion of active transportation for shorter trips, increasing broadband access in rural areas and reducing the need to drive unless necessary. (Vera O’Riordan | Fast Company)

Seattle’s population growth was concentrated in the core: Total housing units in Seattle grew by 60,000 between 2010 and 2020, beat out only by Denver and Austin. What was surprising however was that half of those units were built in central Seattle, a 30 percent increase in units. The reason for the growth in the central city is obvious to most city observers, as it’s where land is zoned for more units. It also shows which parts of the city bear the burdens of growth. (Gene Balk | Seattle Times)

Los Angeles considers banning wood construction downtown: Los Angeles is considering whether to expand its Fire District 1 to more parts of downtown. The Los Angeles City Council Public Safety Committee approved the expansion, which would ultimately ban wood construction. This move pushed by special interests is estimated to increase construction costs between 10 and 50 percent but with no discernable safety improvement. (Nolan Gray | Pacific Research Institute)

Denmark to Germany tunnel breaks ground: Germany and Denmark are embarking on an 18km (11 miles) undersea transportation tunnel that will create a more direct connection between Scandinavia and the European mainland. Most impressively, it will cut trips between Copenhagen and Hamburg from five to three hours and will cost only 10B Euros. For comparison, the Gateway Tunnel under consideration between New Jersey and New York is about the same distance and is estimated to cost $10.1B. (Denis Balgaranov | The

The sustainability of e-commerce: The entire supply chain of everything we consume makes up 50 percent of worldwide emissions. But a question arises about whether increases in e-commerce also increase emissions. Research done before the pandemic says online shopping is sustainable most of the time over brick and mortar stores, but changes to determining variables such as packaging, number of trips to the store or the efficiency of delivery could shift the answer considerably. (Catherine Boudreau | Politico)

Quote of the Week

“In the short term, the goal should be to ensure that we funnel new federal funds as much as possible not through the states but through existing regional governance structures. In the longer term, we can imagine these beefed-up regional governments overseeing regional single-payer health care operations, raising regional minimum wages, or coordinating Green New Deal job guarantee programs. Ideally, federal policy should make clear that such MPOs [metropolitan planning organization] are recognized federal entities not subject to state preemption for their operations.”

Nathan Newman in The Nation discussing how devolution to regional entities could bypass the rural instincts of states.

This week on the podcast, Dutch architect Ton Venhoeven joins the show.

Feature photo courtesy of Michael Marais 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