Hi and welcome back to Sunday Reading. Here’s a bunch of links I’ve compiled over the week. Please add your links in the comment section below.
The headline image is from the Medieval Fantasy City Generator, by watabou.
Here is an important discussion about how women experience and use the city differently than men. Ankita Rao, “Sexism and the City“, Motherboard. Co-workers also directed me to this series of videos of Eva Kail mentioned in the article. Vienna is Europe’s leader in fostering gender equality in public spaces.
We can’t design away sexism or the creepy dude waiting at the train platform. These are some of our culture’s oldest, most insidious problems and urban planners alone can’t solve them. But urban planners are now looking to new designs and technology that, for the first time, should include the other half of the population.
There are several reasons women might access transportation differently than men. For example, women have different transportation habits since many of them multitask between home and work, taking more short trips per day than men. Women are more likely to run errands than their husbands, and more women freelance than men—a lifestyle that can require erratic trips and workdays. And as long as women are paid less (80 cents to the dollar in the US, on average) they will need a system that fits a different budget.
As transportation inches toward equity, that leaves the actual places we live, work, and hang out. It’s in these spaces that we’re fighting literally centuries of patriarchal urban planning.
Bianca, Zander, “How Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is tackling the Auckland housing crisis“, Noted.
“We were focussed on home ownership for hapū members and so we could afford to take a different approach to it.” By different, Healy means that unlike the majority of property developers, they were not trying to make a profit. Nor did they have to make a return on the land, which wasn’t up for sale. Money could be spent on high quality building materials, and sustainable design. Finished homes ended up going for between $418,000 for a two-bedroom townhouse, to $680,000 for a four-bedroom terraced home – roughly half what you’d pay for a shoebox in the same area on the open market.
Residents are getting a bargain but there is a catch, and this will be hard for mortgage brokers and Pākehā to get their heads around. The properties are leasehold, a term that has never appealed to New Zealanders, despite its acceptance in other parts of the world. For 150 years, the house is yours, and then it goes back to the tribe. That lease can be sold to another hapū member at any time, but it can’t be sold on the open market. All well and good for the first 100 years, but once the lease gets down to 50, 20, 10 years… a whole new set of problems arise.
Here is a hilarious rant from sex columnist Dan Savage laying blame to Seattle’s housing crisis on zoning, suburban drivers, and politicians that pretend they can fix traffic congestion: “Doing Something Real About Gentrification and Displacement“, The Strangler.
Way, way back in the ’50s and ’60s, people got it into their heads that they had a constitutional right to live in the suburbs and drive in or through the center of a city—to jobs, to stores, to stadiums, to hookers, to suburbs on the other side of the city—going seventy miles an hour. Our local politicians can’t bring themselves to tell these entitled shits the truth: It’s never going to be the 1960s around here again, when expressways were expressways, not parking lots. We can’t build our way out of this. We can only build alternatives to cars, aka mass transit.
— Armando Mazzei (@ArmandoMazzei) May 24, 2017
Many of the urban transport technology solutions over the last few years have ended up as embarrassing failures including bespoke public transport services in San Francisco and ride share services that torment users by going out of their way to drop everyone off. In order to be useful and profitable, ‘high tech’ transport services will eventually end up taking the familiar form of successful PT. “Technology never changes geometry” as Jarrett says here-> Jarrett Walker, “The Receding Fantasy of Affordable Urban Transit ‘To Your Door’“, Human Transit.
UberPool would be less absurd if we were talking about somewhere other than Manhattan, or any other big city that’s rich in frequent transit. In places with less transit, this concept could have some use. But in big cities it’s clearly converging on something for which fixed route transit is already the ideal tool.
All the new apps have helped smooth out inefficiencies of communication, but they will never change the math. Technology never changes geometry.
Here is a great take down of Elon Musk’s attempt to remove geometry from the urban transport equation with his ridiculous tunnel boring proposal. Jacob Silverman, “The Musk of Success, Choking Our Cities“, The Baffler.
Musk’s boring project also stems from a particular vision of how cities should work and who they should serve. Nowhere in his excited homilies to ultrafast underground travel do we hear anything about the role of mass transit in city life or the need to serve a public that includes poor people. Who decides where the tunnels go? Who pays to integrate the car elevators with existing road systems? Is building out a vast new infrastructure really the answer to traffic, especially when experience shows that adding more roads and highways tends to lead to more driving, exacerbating traffic?
— BeyondDC (@beyonddc) May 18, 2017
Here is a recently published paper that describes the almost unbelievable impacts of restrictive housing policy on economic growth. The research duo have been publicising their findings over the last several years including “The Urban Housing Crunch Costs the U.S. Economy About $1.6 Trillion a Year” -> Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti, “Housing Constraints and Spatial Misallocation (PDF)”, University of Chicago and NBER
We quantify the amount of spatial misallocation of labor across US cities and its aggregate costs. Misallocation arises because high productivity cities like New York and the San Francisco Bay Area have adopted stringent restrictions to new housing supply, effectively limiting the number of workers who have access to such high productivity. Using a spatial equilibrium model and data from 220 metropolitan areas we find that these constraints lowered aggregate US growth by more than 50% from 1964 to 2009
If you think cheap electric vehicles or shared autonomous vehicles are around the corner, you might hesitate to buy a new car. At some point this will lead to a ‘mass stranding’ of existing vehicles and a collapse of the auto and petroleum industries: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, , “All fossil-fuel vehicles will vanish in 8 years in twin ‘death spiral’ for big oil and big autos, says study that’s shocking the industries“, The Telegraph.
No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century.
The premise is that people will stop driving altogether. They will switch en masse to self-drive electric vehicles (EVs) that are ten times cheaper to run than fossil-based cars, with a near-zero marginal cost of fuel and an expected lifespan of 1 million miles.
Cities will ban human drivers once the data confirms how dangerous they can be behind a wheel. This will spread to suburbs, and then beyond. There will be a “mass stranding of existing vehicles”. The value of second-hard cars will plunge. You will have to pay to dispose of your old vehicle.