Time-lapse photo of a Houston freeway at night shot through a chain-link fence.

National Links: Houston’s Pro-Car Mayor

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.

Houston METRO shelves important BRT corridor: Citing financial impacts on current operations, Houston METRO has announced that it won’t move forward with its University Avenue BRT project, leaving $1 billion in federal funds on the table. Mayor John Whitmire, who appoints a majority of the METRO board, has made a number of pro-car decisions since taking office in January and has resisted any car-lane removal. The project would have connected four universities and major destinations with the popular main-street line. (Adam Zuvanich | Houston Public Media)

Super-commuter numbers on the rise: New research from Stanford University says that super commuting — defined as traveling more than 75 miles to work — has increased by a third since the start of the pandemic, as work-from-home policies allow workers to live farther away from their jobs and commute in a few days a week. Commuting over 40 miles to work has increased from 15.8% to 18.5% of all commutes. (Andrew Dorn | The Hill)

Can tiny homes reduce homeless encampments? Cities around the country are constructing tiny homes as an interim solution between homelessness and being housed. Advocates decry them as inhumane, because the small sizes often cause consternation if roommates are required. Others say the cramped quarters may push people to make harder life decisions. (Ronda Kaysen | New York Times)

Collapsed road reveals housing issues: A mountain pass between Idaho and Jackson Hole, Wyoming collapsed earlier this month, severing the expensive city from people who work there. The road’s failure, which requires people to drive 85 miles out of the way to get to work, highlights a growing housing shortage and failure to build in Jackson Hole. (Molly Absolon | White Hall Ledger)

Banks finally recognize climate impacts on housing: Mortgage loan officers are starting to worry about climate change when lending money to homebuyers, worried about the value of the housing used as collateral. At the same time, home insurance is harder to find as extreme weather events — from hail to floods to fires — increase payouts and reduce industry profits. But lenders have also been slow to create solutions such as loans for hardening or moving to safer areas. (Chris Baraniuk | Wired Magazine)

This week on the Talking Headways podcast we’re joined by Michael Batty, professor of planning at the University College London. We chat about his book The Computable City.

Quote of the Week

“It was really hard to work on-site at a property, especially for people with any compassion or humanity. Because we would survey all our tenants when they moved out to find out where they were going, and a lot of them would tell you they were moving back in with family. It seemed so unsustainable.”

— Former revenue officer at Cortland Management (who asked not to be identified) in The American Prospect discussing the use of an algorithm to leave apartments empty in order to make more money.

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