A young man rides an e-bike down a medium-density urban street.

National Links: Going Car-Free in Middle America

Every day, The Overhead Wire collects news about cities and sends 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 Streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Going car-free in Middle America: In most of the United States, people own and use cars for a large number of their trips. But some have eschewed the car for a different lifestyle, free of car payments, insurance premiums and gas fill-ups. Angie Schmitt shares how to do it, including choosing carefully where you live so you can walk and bike most places — though safety is still a big concern. The e-bike has also been a game changer for many, allowing farther travel with less effort. (Angie Schmitt | Vox)

Are traffic studies “junk science” that don’t belong in court?: Cities use traffic impact analyses (TIA) to predict the effects of development projects and prescribe fixes. They also use them to prove in court that their decisions are based on gathered evidence. But most traffic impact analyses aren’t credible or reliable, leading these report authors to wonder what the legal tipping point will be for courts to start questioning the validity of TIAs as evidence. (Kristina M. Currans & Kenneth Stahl | Journal of the American Planning Association)

The 15-minute conspiracy theory: The “15-minute city,” a development and design idea first proposed by Carlos Moreno, which is similar to other urban planning trends like walkable urbanism and transit-oriented development, has been caught up recently in the conspiracy theory spin cycle. British writer Jonn Elledge believes that if you mix worries about large global organizations with unfounded fears that someone will take away your car and ban you from leaving your neighborhood, this is what you get. (Jonn Elledge | The New Statesman)

Wales rethinks road expansion in climate change era: Thirty-five of 50 road projects in Wales were halted after they were tested for climate impacts as part of a larger strategy to think long-term. The country was also forced to rethink investments after funding from the U.K. government dwindled. The cancellations likely will lead to more active transportation and longer-term thinking on climate change. (Steven Morris | The Guardian)

Is remote work costing Manhattan?: Data analyzed by Bloomberg News reporters show that remote work costs the city $12 billion a year that office workers would normally spend if they were in Manhattan offices five days a week. With more people staying close to home, that spending seems to be happening elsewhere in the city outside of Manhattan, but the impact of where offices are located worries city officials who believe it will affect transit funding and the tax base. (Emma Court, Donna Borak, Linly Lin, Kyle Kim | Bloomberg [paywall])

Quote of the Week

“Water fountains have long embodied enduring tensions around public things and their politics and ecologies, around promises of purity and fears of contamination. Fountains can tell us much about a society’s attitudes towards health, hygiene, wealth, virtue, and taste, and about its understandings of municipal and epidemiological responsibilities.”

— Shannon Mattern in Places Journal discussing water fountains and their place in society

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Dr. Dorina Pojani, associate professor of Urban Planning at the University of Queensland, to talk about her book, Planning for Sustainable Transport in Southeast Asia: Policy Transfer, Diffusion, and Mobility.

Image at top courtesy of KBO Bike 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