Pedestrians on urban street

National Links: Why Walk in Auto-Loving America?

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.

Walking in America’s car-centric hellscape: The best way to understand our autocentric landscape is to walk it, says Alex Wolfe, a graphic designer who writes about his long walks. He didn’t start walking to save the environment, but rather to see the places that people overlook when driving by at 60 miles per hour. But his findings also rebuke many people’s purity tests about where we should or shouldn’t walk. whether it’s the wilderness or a vibrant urban space. (Eve Andrews | Grist)

Upzoning America’s side streets: More intense development happens on the busiest streets in many U.S. cities. But building housing so that the bulk of a building can buffer lower-density blocks from traffic noise and air pollution is unjust, argues Henry Grabar. It raises the possibility that you might be killed by a car or breathe in the brake dust that settles on your windowsill. And being against a project in your neighborhood because of traffic just gives away what you think “other” people really deserve. (Henry Grabar | Slate)

Reconciliation bill would set emissions targets: The Build Back Better Act sitting in the U.S. Senate (also called the reconciliation or budget bill, depending on your naming tastes) would set transportation emissions goals and reward transportation agencies that can prove reductions. Outgoing Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Rep. Peter Defazio (D-Oregon) says the agencies will be able to tap a pot of money worth $1 billion and be given bonus funding from the feds. (Ian Duncan | Washington Post)

The shady investments changing whole neighborhoods: One finding from the Pandora Papers is a shady collection of wealthy funds that seeks to profit off of personal disasters such as the great recession. Companies such as Pretium Partners expect a $2 million buy-in and promise 15 to 20 percent annual returns by using algorithms to purchase entry-level homes and rent them to those who can’t quite afford to buy. (Spencer Woodman, Margot Gibbs and Peter Whoriskey | International Consortium of Investigative Journalism)

Tri-Rail train cars too big for Brightline station: Tri-Rail, a commuter rail line that operates in the Miami region, will not be able to go into the new Brightline terminal in Miami the platforms won’t fit the train cars. The Tri-Rail move into downtown, which is expected to cost $70 million, is already four years late, and now there are even more concerns about whether the train cars are too heavy to travel across a viaduct into the station. (Douglas Hanks | Miami Herald)

Quote of the Week

“Our horizon is very clear. We’ll ban diesel and non-electric cars in Paris in 2024 and 2030 [respectively]. We succeeded in shaking up the car industry. But the environment will not be protected at the expense of the more vulnerable.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo in Politico

This week on the podcast, University of Virginia Associate Professor Peter Norton talks about his new book Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving.

Feature photo courtesy of Ryoji Iwata 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