National Links: Lessons from the Pandemic

Every day, The Overhead Wire collects news about cities and sends the links to their 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.

The effects of remote work: Three years after the start of a global pandemic, we’re beginning to see patterns emerge surrounding the effects of work-from-home policies. Productivity studies are all over the map and depend on the arrangement and management of workers. Working moms appreciate the flexibility, but advancement prospects have become more limited. Downtown businesses are suffering from the lack of buzz and office workers. (Emma Goldberg | New York Times)

Pandemic changed the commute: New research from the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory suggest that pandemic restrictions reduced limits on access significantly by getting rid of peak traffic congestion. The typical worker in Atlanta, for example, could reach 82% more jobs in 2021, Houston 50% more. These changes in traffic behavior show that it is possible to increase the usefulness of the existing transportation system. (University of Minnesota News)

When we design for autism, design for everyone: Magda Mostafa, autism design consultant and architecture professor at the American University in Cairo, discusses how she sees design for autism and how they put together a design index that gives people tools to support neurodivergent design. The index has seven architectural notions/criteria that can help both children and adults who are on the spectrum. (Jaxson Stone & Magda Mostafa | Metropolis Magazine)

Starter cars going the way of starter houses: The price of the lowest cost car is now around $20,000, but several years ago there were several models people could purchase for under that amount. It’s not due to rules or regulations; car companies are deciding that higher priced models are more profitable and have stopped manufacturing their low-cost options. America’s land use regime often requires cars, and now it’s more expensive to participate. (Addison Del Mastro | Discourse)

Utilities fear rooftop solar: At a recent hearing in Arizona, the expert witness for a public utility agreed that public utilities are worried about rooftop solar because it cuts into profits. This is one of the first times utilities have publicly admitted this; they often say nice things about rooftop solar but cap total installations. In the transition to clean energy, a mix of sources — including rooftop solar — will be needed, so what fixes are available to this perverse incentive? (Dan Gearino | Mother Jones)

Quote of the Week

“A person with a one-hour commute to work has to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied as someone who walks. At the same time, shifting from a long commute to a short walk would make a single person as happy as if he or she had found a new love.”

— Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer, economists at the University of Zurich quoted by Inside Hook on the benefits of walking commutes.

This week on the podcast, Kari Watkins and Dave Ederer to talk about their paper, The Safe Systems Pyramid: A New Framework for Traffic Safety

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