A man reads a book on a bus stop bench attached to a community library near a park.

National Links: The Great Third Place

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.

In search of athird place”: It’s not home and it’s not work. Your “third place” is where you gather with friends and acquaintances in a shared public setting. This idea was made famous by a 1989 book by Ray Oldenburg called “The Great Good Place.” These types of places were already shuttering before the pandemic exacerbated a brewing epidemic of loneliness. This makes “third places” ever more important. As cities change and new forms of gathering emerge, re-imagining what “third places” can be could be essential to society’s well-being. (Allie Volpe | Vox)

A new form of redlining? The Louisiana Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of creating a new city, 90,000 people strong, on the outskirts of Baton Rouge called St. George. This follows a trend of other cities in the south that have formed new boundaries in exurban areas. Pete Saunders believes the creation of city-hood in examples such as St. George is just a new way for people to create policies that segregate. (Pete Saunders | Corner Side Yard)

Cities embrace skateboarding to revitalize public space: Empty plazas and neglected spaces around the world are becoming more vibrant and are welcoming people again as cities build skate parks and embrace the culture that X Games and Olympic Skateboarding have popularized. See photos of projects from New York, San Francisco and Paris in this article. (Gary Moskowitz | Reasons to be Cheerful)

Amtrak and Brightline vie for Ohio: Legacy intercity rail operator Amtrak and up-and-comer Brightline are competing for a chance to operate rail between major cities in the state of Ohio. State officials are reticent to operate a passenger rail system at all, but while Amtrak offers connection to a well-established network, Brightline is allowed to lobby public officials and has previously sweetened the pot such as in Florida. It will be interesting to see which approach comes out on top and whether this type of competition increases nationally. (Ken Prendergast | Neo-trans Blog)

Second best” fixes are imperfect yet lifesaving: Much needed traffic safety efforts are often hindered by government that is structurally biased against change. To continue toward safer streets and transportation environments, University of Iowa Law Professor Greg Shill suggests that sidestepping big political obstacles to implement “second best” changes can save lives by focusing on easy wins and low-hanging fruit. He suggests bollards and better streetlights as examples of easy-to-implement infrastructure that should be pursued in addition to bigger and harder moves. (Greg Shill | Bloomberg CityLab)

This week on the podcast: We chat in two parts with Minneapolis developer Jim Kumon about development projects, zoning reform and crowdfunding. (Part 1 | Part 2)

Quote of the Week

“Travel behavior has a lot of inertia, it doesn’t change a lot. So when you find things that get it to the double-digits of shifts in travel behavior, it’s pretty remarkable.”

— Alex Bigazzi in CTV News discussing how a study showed a 30-40% decrease in daily driving among participants who bought e-bikes with local rebates.

Photo at top by L Odyssee Belle 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