A large silver SUV shown from the front

National Links: Is Bigger Really Better?

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

The policies that made cars so big: SUVs and trucks now make up 80% of vehicles sold in the United States. Some people say they prefer large vehicles — often citing safety — but government policies contribute to the trend. Among them are Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards being loosened for larger vehicles, the assumption that all electric vehicles are equally non-polluting and blocking smaller vehicles from being imported. (David Zipper | Vox)

Mapping tools could change where you live: In the last decade, more mapping technologies have come out that make discussions of accessibility easier. One of the most recent additions is the tool Close, an interactive travel-time map that allows people to focus on the amenities that matter to them and the walkability or transit accessibility to those destinations. (Diana Lind | New Urban Order)

Ancient ways of cooling streets: Researchers in Seville, Spain are taking cues from an ancient Persian system of underground aqueducts called qanats to cool city spaces. By feeding water underground, the system cools areas above ground several degrees in the hottest months of the summer through a series of vents. The project is expected to be completed by summer and provide a space for local university students and people who work nearby. (Jesse Chase-Lubitz | Al Jazeera)

The puzzle of climate change and housing: After the great recession the federal government cracked down on toxic high-risk mortgages that led to the collapse of the housing market. Today mortgages are more regulated on the buyers’ end, but many are still toxic due to new and future impacts of climate change that aren’t calculated as part of mortgage risk. As insurance rates rise because of this risk, regulators may have to consider not approving mortgages in areas likely to be most impacted by climate change. (Susan Crawford | Moving Day)

Radical rebirth of King’s Cross: Over the past 25 years, the industrial lands north of King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations in London have been redeveloped. Sixty-seven acres have been turned into 50 new buildings with space for 30,000 office workers and 1,700 homes — of which 40% are affordable. But architecture critic Rowan Moore believes some personality still is missing from the space. (Rowan Moore | The Guardian)

This week on the podcast we’re joined by Gabe Klein, executive director of the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. We chat about the Joint Office’s white paper focused on best practices for electric vehicle charging. You can find a full transcript here.

Quote of the Week

“It certainly doesn’t [allow] us to double service in the Denver area, which is what we really need. But this is an exciting first step that’s critical to meeting all of our state and regional goals related to climate, air, quality, access, safety — you name it.”

— Molly McKinley, policy director for the Denver Streets Partnership, on Colorado Public Radio discussing the state transit funding deal made with oil and gas companies

Photo at top by Krish Parmar 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