National Links: Rick Steves Discusses Walkable Cities

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. They are national links, sometimes entertaining or absurd but often useful.

Rick Steves talks walkable cities: Prolific European traveler and guidebook writer Rick Steves had Jeff Speck on his radio program to talk about walkable cities in Europe and the United States. The two discussed what cities in both places have in common and why pedestrian deaths are declining in Europe but rising here in the U.S. Speck shares that we don’t have to ban cars to get similar results, but rather put them in their place and slow them down. (Rob Steuteville | CNU Public Square)

Study sheds light on CA homeless: A study out of the University of California, San Francisco had homeless in California respond to 3,200 questionnaires and conducted 320 in-depth interviews. What they found was that many homeless had been on the edge of poverty but had a life event that pushed them into the streets after job loss. Half of the population of homeless in California is over 50 and as people aged they were more likely to have an event that took home away or lost income from job changes. (Anita Chabria | Los Angeles Times)

Lack of transportation and social exclusion: Low-income individuals with limited access to transportation options can be resourceful when it comes to getting needed transportation, but also are more likely to suffer from marginalization while reinforcing social exclusion. The importance of this finding cannot be emphasized enough — that people who lack transportation often decide not to go anywhere, reducing access to social opportunities and employment. (Chandra Ward and Darrell Walsh | Journal of Transport Geography)

FEMA flood buyout program and segregation: Researchers at Rice University in Houston traced the path of 10,000 participants in FEMA’s flood buyout program to find out more about how the managed retreat program impacts residents. Most buyout participants move to much safer areas with reduced flood risk, but where buyouts occurred tells a bigger story about race and risk, often showing the limited options in low-income areas made up of people of color. (Jake Bittle | Grist

Battery fires an increasing problem: Lithium-ion batteries have been amazing for the electrification of everything from personal computers to now bikes and scooters. But the quick uptick in use also comes with hazards if they aren’t regulated accordingly. Battery fires are becoming a deadly problem in places like New York City and need to be addressed thoroughly if more and more people are going to bring them into homes to recharge for electric vehicles such as bikes and scooters. (Winnie Hu | New York Times)

Quote of the Week

“The rhetoric that so often drives the creation of economic zones holds that individuals know best how to attain personal prosperity, and that they should be free of the meddlesome prerogatives of the state in pursuit of their own interests, for better or for worse. Even if it were true that most working people in Hong Kong, Somalia, Singapore, London or Shenzhen were materially better off than their counterparts elsewhere — and it’s not clear that they are — there would still be the question of how to contend with the unequal distribution of power.”

Andre Pagliarini in The New Republic discussing the proliferation of special economic zones designed to circumvent democracy.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Alex Brennan, Executive Director of Futurewise to talk about the passing of planning laws that will change the 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