A man waits in a rideshare station

National Links: Lyft Opting for Profits Over People

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 or absurd but often useful.

Lyft wants out of bikeshare: Lyft’s CEO has stated that he wants more money from bikeshare cities or wants to be rid of the networks the company bought when they acquired Motivate in 2018. Ultimately the need for profitability over providing access is leading the move. Lyft’s promises of being friends with active transportation are long gone as CEO David Risher pondered whether his company did a good enough job sucking bikeshare riders into its ride-hail system. (Aaron Gordon | Motherboard)

Amtrak’s ridership vs. coverage problem: Jarrett Walker writes that Amtrak’s policy rhetoric is the perfect example of a discussion he often has about coverage versus ridership for transit systems. To cover the entire country, the system would have to spread itself thin to serve everyone; focusing on ridership, however, would mean more concentrations of service to aim for higher ridership. The two can’t coexist, even though lawmakers want service for everyone and profitability. (Jarrett Walker | Human Transit)

Is housing changing the marriage market? In high-cost cities, dating and the housing market are becoming intertwined. Many younger people say they would move in faster with someone if it meant saving money on rent, and housing often enters the minds of people as they are choosing potential partners, even early in the dating process. The last time the ratio of housing prices to salaries was this high was in the mid-19th century. (Barbara Speed | The Guardian)

Predictable city branding: Cities and companies in them are claiming uniqueness while turning into the same thing, writes David A. Banks. His term for this convergence — the City Authentic — is the third level of city marketing and economic development. City Authentic, he explains, comes after the City Beautiful and City Efficient movements. As places that create and test new culture disappear because of algorithmic advertising, cities will converge in sameness until everything is commodified. (David A Banks | Dezeen)

Sewers can’t handle storms: A series of new reports by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) show that many sewer systems around the country are unable to handle extreme rainfall events caused by climate change. The result might be more instances like Hurricane Ida, which flooded basements in New York and New Jersey. Increasing the capacity of these drainage systems may take decades and billions of dollars before they are able to suitably drain water. (Thomas Frank | Scientific American)

Quote of the Week

“There’s a larger play than just residential for existing building stock, and that is going to balance out the ecosystem that we need [in order] to have neighborhoods that can thrive.”

— Sheryl Schulze, a principal at architecture and planning firm Gensler, explaining in Dwell the feasibility of turning offices into housing.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Mike Warren, senior vice president at WSP, who talks about road user charging, including how the discussion has changed over the past decade toward the idea of treating roads as a utility by paying for driving by the mile.

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