National Links: What Happened to Small Cars?

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. These are national and international links, entertaining, absurd or even useful.

Death of small cars in America: Smaller cars have continued to disappear from dealer showrooms around the US, replaced by larger SUVs and trucks. What happened to the “compact” car? Joe Ligo argues that low interest rates and inflation led to the demise of smaller cars, more so than the oft-cited factor of low gas prices. With battery weights contributing to vehicle cost for the emerging class of electric cars, we might soon see a resurgence of smaller vehicles. (Joe Ligo | Autopian)

Fire departments bad on urban policy: Firefighters typically have a positive public image, but lately they have been advocating for bad urban policy. Recently, fire departments have opposed better street design in L.A., congestion pricing in New York and zoning reform in Arizona. Brad Hargreaves argues that the departments’ narrow focus on fire safety for buildings may hurt them on other issues they deal with on a daily basis, including car collisions and homelessness. (Brad Hargreaves | Thesis Driven)

AI visuals generate sustainable development support: New research from the MIT Sloan School of Management suggests that artificial intelligence-generated visuals of sustainable, car-free cities and transportation can influence people’s opinions on their built environment. In this study, 3,200 people were asked about their opinion on a hypothetical transportation bill. Some were shown “before and after” images generated by AI, some saw similar cartoon images and some saw none. Asked about the bill again, those shown the AI images had the greatest increase in their support of the changes. Republicans surveyed had the greatest change in opinion. (MIT Sloan School of Management)

Can we engineer our way out of climate change?: There are a lot of current efforts to use technology to capture carbon, including by producers of oil and gas. These new carbon capture ideas, and other high-tech solutions like geoengineering, have been pitched as an answer to the climate crisis. Some, however, are skeptical of their capabilities and worried about unintended consequences. (David Gelles | New York Times)

Census changes race questions: The Office of Management and Budget has announced that the U.S. Census will change how it asks questions about race and ethnicity for the first time in over 30 years. Previous census forms separated out questions about Hispanic ethnicity, and didn’t ask about Middle Eastern or North African descent. The 2030 Census will include those boxes, along with one for Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, separating that category out from Asian-Americans. (Nicole Chavez | CNN)

This week on the Talking Headways podcast, Heidi Simon of Smart Growth America talks to us about working with local officials to create safer streets through quick-build projects.

Quote of the Week

“With two-hour commute on the way home, for example, how can anyone make time for babies? The idea is to give people more leisure time after work.”

— South Korean Land Minister Park Sang-woo in Reuters, discussing plans for six new high-speed transit lines in Seoul, slated for completion in 2035

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