Cities

iPhone rideshare app coming soon

It’s the 21st century, folks — text with your hitchhiker’s thumb. An iPhone application called Avego will soon be available to hook up drivers with those who need rides, helpfully suggesting a safe place to pull over and calculating the split cost between driver and rider. No word on how it’ll go over in Ontario, which recently effectively made ridesharing illegal.

November train

How investing in transit could save Obama’s butt

Nov. 4 was a good day for public transit. Ballot measures around the country performed well — the state of California even approving a first-in-the-nation plan to create a true high-speed, inter-city rail system. Increased Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will likely clear the way for infrastructure investment with a pronounced lean toward green, equitable transit. And President-elect Obama seems inclined to lead the Congress in that direction. (If nothing else, the replacement of a distinctly anti-transit administration will lead to a much-needed shakeup of the federal transportation bureaucracy, especially the Federal Transit Administration.) Recent dip aside, oil …

Beyond the bail

Why bail out the car companies when they bailed out on us?

I have a new Salon article, “Is Detroit worth saving?” It is built around this piece, but I have expanded on the sad story of the Big Three Medium Two walking away from the development of hybrid gas-electric vehicles in the 1990s. I’ve been asked why I think they gave up on hybrids. The answer, I believe, is a very cynical one. If they had successfully demonstrated hybrids were practical (heck, even desirable) cars, as Toyota later did, then they would no longer be able to lobby against fuel economy standards by claiming CAFE would drive Americans into smaller, foreign-made, …

In search of an urban plan

How design must change in a warming, oil-scarce world

This week I was able to attend a conference on urban planning hosted by the Penn Institute for Urban Research and the Rockefeller Foundation. Fifty years ago, the same entities had put together another urban conference, at which gathered names like Jane Jacobs and Lewis Mumford, intellectuals who shaped the design world’s thinking about cities at a time when many urban places were facing crisis. Those thinkers faced a world in which the city no longer seemed necessary, and where planners were increasingly tearing downtowns limb from limb to make them safe for the coming car-tropolis. Now, of course, the …

Green space lessens socioeconomic health gap, says study

The health disparity between rich and poor folk is much smaller in areas with plenty of parks and green space, according to a large study published in British medical journal The Lancet. Says lead author Richard Mitchell, “This is the first time we have demonstrated that aspects of the physical environment can have an impact in such a good way.”

Keeping up with the Scotts

JCPenney joins the ranks of green retailers

Say what you will about it, JCPenney is a survivor. The 106-year-old retailer has 1,093 stores lurking around the country, from Media, Pa. to Tempe, Ariz. Having made it through the rash of department store consolidations that gobbled up brands like Marshall Fields, and having fared better than some of its mid-range competitors — Sears and Montgomery Ward come to mind — JCPenney has adopted a new businesses strategy to stay relevant. Not surprisingly, given current trends, it’s now going green. After launching an in-house eco-label, Simply Green, in March, and experimenting with green building techniques in a Denver store …

Welcome to the new Grist. Tell us what you think, or if it's your first time learn about us. Grist is celebrating 15 years. ×