Several lanes of stopped traffic on a wintery freeway.

National Links: Some Truth in Advertising

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.

Philly’s potential future High Line: Philadelphia city officials have been trying to acquire the Reading Viaduct for two decades, but the owner who purchased the asset from what remained of the Reading Railroad has been tough to work with — or even contact. The city wants to create its own version of New York’s famous High Line, but the former rail viaduct has just sat empty and unused. Now the city has given the green light to get the properties “by any means necessary, including condemnation.” (Inga Saffron | The Philadelphia Inquirer)

The “Safe Systems Pyramid”: Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a new framework for thinking about traffic safety. The current methods of engineering, enforcement, and education (the “E’s”) aren’t working to reduce traffic deaths, so a Vision Zero and Safe Systems approach are seen as a way to bring public health thinking and safety to transportation. To show how it could work, they devised a Safe Systems Pyramid approach to a hypothetical Vision Zero program. (David J. Ederer, et al | Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives)

Auto truth in advertising needed: Overnight street parking was banned in Japan in 1957 due to limited space, and car owners are required to have proof that they have a place to park. This, in addition to massive postwar investment in public transit, has made Tokyo the least car-centric of big cities in wealthy countries. But in North America, with what seems like unlimited space, vehicles have gotten larger over time — with the help of advertising that romanticizes the experience of driving them. By 2020, 79% of ads in periodicals in Canada featured an SUV or light truck. Étienne Tremblay suggests that perhaps it’s time to make car companies advertise more truthfully, starting with showing their cars being driven in unglamorous real-life conditions. (Étienne Tremblay | Policy Options)

Why the Lahaina fire is so shocking: A wildfire that tore through Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui is shocking in that, unlike other recent devastating fires, the city has been around for a long time and doesn’t sit near a wildland-urban interface. But the fire was aided by a few circumstances including drought, dry invasive grasses that gave the fire more fuel and winds produced by a tropical cyclone. Some potential remedies include reestablishing native forests and subsidizing agricultural land to keep the grasses out. (Henry Grabar | Slate)

Why people won’t stop moving to the Sunbelt: Even as record-breaking heat increases, the Sunbelt’s allure persists, and people keep moving to its cities. The 50 counties in the U.S. with the highest heat risk grew 5% between 2016 and 2020, while those with the lowest actually lost population. A relatively inexpensive supply of housing, lots of jobs, and warm winters pull people in, despite higher risks in the summer. Some suggest that climate change will reverse that trend, but as long as there are more jobs and cheaper housing in those places, the trend will likely continue. (Olga Khazan | The Atlantic)

Quote of the Day

“What often happens is that a [street] project gets to implementation, the NIMBYs jump up, and the bike aspect is the first thing to get cut. We want to make sure we’re shining the spotlight on these projects at those critical moments, so that they get across the finish line.”

— Jenn Dice, CEO of PeopleForBikes in Streetsblog USA, discussing a new advocacy portal for bike improvements.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined once more by Susan Crawford, author and Harvard Law Professor, to talk about her new book, Charleston: Race, Water, and the Coming Storm. Susan chats with us about sea level rise, city solutions, and opportunities to rethink our responses.

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