National Links: Who Can Afford to Drive?

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 that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. These are national links, sometimes entertaining or absurd, but hopefully useful.

Is apartment-phobia driving the housing crisis?: Over the past 10 years, the number of housing units per 1,000 people in the United States has fallen, leading to a huge shortage of housing. The number of households is increasing, making the problem even more acute. Intelligencer writer Eric Levitz believes that the shortage is in part caused by a phobia of apartments written into zoning codes over time. The enforcement of these codes, he says, likely reinforce the antipathy toward high-density development that continues. (Eric Levitz | New York Magazine)

Driving in America is getting costlier: As income inequality in the United States becomes more pronounced, more and more people are unable to afford to drive in a country where, in most places, driving is required to access jobs, schools and healthcare. New research has found that wealth is a big determinant in whether an individual has access to a car. Half of the trips among the poorest in America occur without motorized transportation. (Matthew Rozsa | Salon)

We should not commodify natural light: The idea of windowless bedrooms as a way to build more housing and solve shortages has been promoted by profit-seeking developers, billionaire dorm designers and the kind of people who keep accidentally re-inventing the bus. The Nation‘s Kate Wagner argues that the commodification of sunlight would be inhuman, and that the real reasons for housing shortages would not be fixed by living without windows. (Kate Wagner | The Nation)

Walking around is empowering for children: In 2019, Holly Weir of Westminster University spent time with some of East London’s kids, asking them about how they traveled and how being able to walk around their neighborhoods impacted them. From this limited sample of children, her study suggests that having the autonomy of walking around gave them a greater sense of well being and navigational skills. (Holly Weir | The Conversation)

SEPTA ends King of Prussia project: The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which operates a number of transit systems in and around Philadelphia, cancelled its King of Prussia rail extension after the Federal Transit Administration passed on awarding the agency funding for the project. The project was expected to cost $3B and only serve around 10,000 riders. On the flip side, the cancellation also boosted hopes of local advocates hoping to reconsider the Roosevelt Boulevard subway extension, which has been getting more attention and recent press coverage. (Thomas Fitzgerald | Philadelphia Inquirer)

Quote of the Week:

“Sprawl comes at a cost, and for decades parents have been paying the price. The cost is literal, yes, but it’s also figurative, or maybe just less visible. The lost time with friends who live just a little out of the way, the daily stress of wrangling your kids to take them anywhere, the economic vulnerability of owning and maintaining a car if you’re already struggling with food and housing. If you think I’m exaggerating the profound impact of cars on our daily lives, take this into account: In states that have raised the age of children in car seats, the chance of parents having a third child decreases.”

Erin Sagen, discussing in Romper why she believes raising kids would be easier without cars.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined again by Dr. Jennifer Kent, senior research fellow in Urbanism at the University of Sydney, to talk about her work on family transportation, the messiness of travel for parents, and loneliness and the built environment.

Photo at top courtesy of Isaac Quesada 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