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.
Sticks — not carrots — to get people out of cars: In a new study published in Case Studies on Transport Policy, climate scientists ranked 12 different methods for reducing car use from 800 different studies. What they found was that sticks, not carrots, yielded the best results. Policies such as congestion pricing make the cost of driving more visible, unlike the often-unseen costs of air pollution, traffic violence, and public health impacts. (Carlton Reid | Forbes)
Rethinking one-way streets: As the middle class suburbanized in the mid-20th century, civil engineers designed roads that favored speed and throughput so that commuters could drive faster to reach downtown destinations. The result was the conversion of many two-way streets to one-way streets, which led to economic disinvestment in core cities and worsened safety and health outcomes. But new research shows that distances traveled are actually decreased by two-way streets. (Geoff Boeing, William Riggs | Transfers Magazine)
Cooling centers are underused: As climate change creates more extreme heat events, more and more cities are focusing on strategies to keep people cool. One of those solutions is the cooling center, where people can go and get access to air conditioning. But cooling centers are often underused, either because they require transportation that people don’t have or can’t access on extremely hot days, or because they simply don’t appeal to people as a place to spend time in. If cooling centers are going to work, they need to be compatible with people’s regular routines. (Jake Bittle | Grist)
Colombian activists want better sidewalks: In Bogotá, about a third of trips are walking trips. But partly because of the rainy weather, the infrastructure for walking is damaged and poses a number of hazards. Colombian activists upset at the bad sidewalks and pavement conditions have started painting the damaged concrete, bricks, and clay tiles pink with a black “X.” The shame may already have led to some overdue infrastructure repairs, and the activists are hoping for further success. (Manuel Rueda | The World)
Increased state government capacity lowers costs: A new study takes a look at how state government capacity impacts road paving projects; it finds that when there are fewer public employees at state DOTs, more work is outsourced to consultants, which drives up costs. Consultants have little incentive to solicit competitive bids for projects; as the number of construction firms bidding has decreased, bids have gotten higher overall, increasing project costs. This suggests that hiring more public sector workers could lower overall costs of projects. (David Dayen | The American Prospect)
Quote of the Week
“We turned into a city of cynics who measured every project with a standard formula: take the announced budget and schedule, multiply by 2.5 — then expect worse.”
— Josh Freed in Montreal Gazette, discussing the feeling the population of Montreal had before completing its latest big project faster and better.
This week on the podcast, we’re sharing Part I and Part II of a one-to-one conversation between David Longoria of LISC Phoenix and Ryan Winkle of RAIL CDC. They discuss the community work they are doing in Mesa, Ariz. along the light rail line and the impact their work has on local businesses.