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 Streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
What’s keeping people from returning to the office: Fewer people are going to the office every day than before the pandemic, and despite the lures of free breakfast and other perks the main thing keeping people away seems to be the arduous daily commute. This is especially true for transit riders who live in suburbs with poor service and long commutes, an issue explored by Sarah Green Carmichael in the Washington Post. Interviewed by Slate for a separate article, several white-collar workers also name-checked the commute as a deterrent from going back to the office. Incentives that are working include on-site child care and a clear reason why one’s employer wants butts in seats. Coffee, cookies and even in-office puppies don’t fare so well. (Sarah Green Carmichael | Bloomberg/WaPo)
Omaha to rip up its only protected bikeway: Omaha, Nebraska will not continue a protected bike lane pilot project; an advisory committee tied to the mayor recommended taking it out even after the city council reaffirmed its support. The local bike advocacy group Bike Walk Nebraska was not invited to the committee meeting, and has since cut ties with the advisory committee. (Arjav Rawal and Chris Bowling | The Reader)
Audio: America’s future climate havens: Throughout this century more Americans can expect to be impacted by climate related events, including rising oceans and climate-induced extreme weather. People tend to stay connected to the places they live, but eventually as many as 13 million will need to move. On WBUR’s On Point program, host Meghna Chakrabarti asks a demographer, a Hurricane Maria refugee and others about these future migrations and how cities can prepare for them. (Stefano Kotsonis and Kimberly Atkins Stohr | WBUR)
Looking at Los Angeles through the eyes of artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence renderers like Midjourney have taken off, producing many pieces of art and design by combing through existing works and generating composite new works. But if you put a city like Los Angeles into the system and only use the images, you’d come up with a cliché about beaches and palm trees. Inputting literature or poetry about the city changes the output changes dramatically. (Carolina A. Miranda et al | Los Angeles Times)
Are economies less dynamic as they age?: Yale University Press is re-releasing a 1982 book by University of Maryland political scientist and economist Mancur Olson entitled The Rise and Decline of Nations. The book hypothesizes that as economies get older, they get less dynamic and more bogged down by process and the accumulation of interest groups. After dismissing the book when he first read it in 1993, Harvard economist Ed Glaeser has written a new preface, applying Olson’s premise to some of America’s large cities. (Walter Frick | Harvard Business Review)
Quote of the Week
“I know they have design changes downtown … where they’re going to make it more bicycle-friendly and pedestrian-friendly. And I’m like: ‘Cool, great. Do the same thing for Fond du Lac. Do the same thing for Capitol, where it’s actually needed.’ “
-Appleton, Wisconsin resident Tristain Thomas, quoted by Wisconsin Public Radio about the need for Wisconsin DOT to design safer roads and the bureaucracy blocking them.
This week on the podcast, Billie Giles-Corti, director of the Healthy Livable Cities Lab at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melanie Lowe of the University of Melbourne, and Geoff Boeing of USC, talk about their papers in The Lancet Global Health series on Urban Design, Transport and Health.