National Links: Recycling a Building; Self-Driving’s Eternal Adolescence

Every day, The Overhead Wire sends news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week they 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.

No- er, less parking: Researchers for a Toronto business association found that replacing parking space with cafe seating and other uses during the pandemic generated $181m in sales. The parking spots, if used for cars, would have generated $3.7m in the same time frame. The results show the perverse incentives to use scarce urban real estate for parking cars rather than human activities. (Oliver Moore | Globe and Mail)

Self-driving cars headed nowhere fast: Even after $100B in investment and six years of picking up passengers, tech companies are still nowhere near setting “self driving” vehicles loose on the road. Even once-evangelical supporters of the movement have resigned themselves to working with vehicles in constrained environments. Supporters still believe that the vehicles will be ready eventually, but likely not until all of us are very old. (Max Chafkin | Bloomberg Businessweek)

A curbless street in Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor has completed the first segment of the city’s first curbless street. When finished, the street will be three blocks long and give flexibility to merchants for outdoor dining and deliveries. The city has also removed a northbound travel lane, widening the sidewalks. (Ryan Stanton | MLive)

An anthropologist’s look at housing: Why do we build housing, but neglect to maintain it? When we demolish buildings, how do they continue to impact us through their materials in landfills? Anthropologist Catherine Fennell thinks deeper about these ideas in a fascinating interview about her new project Ends of the House: Racism and Remediation in the Late Industrial Midwest. (Eve Glasberg | Columbia News)

How to recycle a tower: In Amsterdam the Dutch are recycling all the materials from a 14 story office tower in what could be a future blueprint for waste reduction around the world. The project draws from theories of the regenerative economy and cradle-to-grave materials handling. Reuse would be the best case scenario for many of the materials and equipment ,but the way they are designed can make it harder to implement. Whole economies will need to figure out how to execute projects like this to maximize its impact. (Jessica Camille Aguirre | New York Times)

Quote of the Week

“You can always feel the pollution. Even when you get home, you smell like pollution.”

-Ines Galan in Bloomberg’s CityLab, discussing London’s car trouble.

This week on the podcast, journalist Megan Kimble talks about housing and highway fights in Texas: TXDOT’s political pressure, the organizations fighting back, and why throughput remains king in the Lone Star State.

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