Hands holding coffee mugs

National Links: Can Coffee Shops Make You Happy?

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 Streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national and international links, sometimes entertaining or absurd but often useful.

Urban design can influence well being: The consultancy Happy Cities surveyed 1,900 people in the Vancouver, British Columbia area and found no evidence that density reduces happiness. However, they did find that well-designed places with access to amenities and transportation are necessary for happiness. Most types of housing can make people happy, though tiny or underground units are likely to have a negative impact. (Eliza Relman | Business Insider)

LA mayor clears path for affordable housing: Los Angeles has seen an uptick in developers not typically involved in affordable housing who are pursuing plans to build more units that median-income purchasers can afford. The key might be a 60-day permitting process that Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has allowed through an executive order, as well as numerous state density bonus programs. Previous waits for development permits could last years. (Ben Christopher | CalMatters)

Transit subsidies are productive: A new study published in Springer’s Transportation Journal has found that subsidies can make transit more efficient. Transit regions that spend more tend to have better service and more riders, and on a per-capita basis they spend less overall and generate more fare revenue. The findings suggest that funding transit could create a virtuous cycle of benefits and long-lasting value. (Kea Wilson | Streetsblog USA)

New York not flexing funds: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (commonly known as the infrastructure bill) allows for transportation funding to be spent on transit, but most states are continuing to spend on highways. In New York State, 90% of the $1 billion spent in flex funds went to roads, with less than 1% going to transit. Ultimately the state will have $6 billion to spend, and advocates want to make sure roads are not the only beneficiaries of supposedly multipurpose transportation funding. (Sam Mellins | NY Focus)

Rotterdam’s tidal park protects the city: Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and the 10th largest in the world, but it’s also below sea level. And intense rain events are increasing due to climate change. Locals say that “water comes from four sides”: sea-level rise, rainfall, ground subsidence and swelling rivers. To manage the water, Dutch designers have created a tidal park from a former industrial harbor where water squares collect water and disperse it slowly to avoid overwhelming the drainage infrastructure. (Senay Boztas | The Guardian)

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Angie Schmitt, owner and principal at 3MPH Planning and Consulting. We chat about changing travel behavior in cities, the impact of recent social isolation on social trust and polarization in policy solutions.

Quote of the Week

“The pace of electrification has been the highest in the last 15 years: Between 2011 and 2020, about 20,000 rkm [route kilometers] of railway lines were electrified, and another 20,000 kilometers of rkm have been electrified between 2020 and November 2023. This is an incredible pace of electrification for a railway system so vast.”

— Sharif Qamar, associate director at the Energy and Resources Institute in Delhi, discussing India’s electrification of 90% of its railway network in Energy Monitor

Photo at top by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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