Urbanism

not in my subaru outback

Liberal NIMBYism: the most despicable form of hypocrisy?

Prospect Park’s new bike lane is worse than airborne weaponized AIDSPhoto: shannonvsimmsIn staunchly liberal enclaves all over the country, citizens who profess to progressive environmentalism in the abstract are thwarting local efforts to increase the sustainability of their immediate environment. Whether it’s suing over bike lanes in Park Slope, Brooklyn, or blocking a bus rapid transit system in Berkeley, Calif., the children of the summer of love appear to have grown up, grown old, and grown immune to the needs of their descendants. Ryan Avent, online economics editor for The Economist, says that there is something even more damaging to the environment …

File under: strange bedfellows

Edward Glaeser: Tea Party-style libertarianism could be good for our cities

Cities: Land of the free, home of the brave.Photo: Thomas HawkWhen I talked with economist Edward Glaeser last month about his new book Triumph of the City, he touched briefly on the idea that Tea Party activists, rather than being natural adversaries of city-dwellers, are actually natural allies — if only unwittingly. Here’s what he said then: To those Republicans, to those Tea Party activists who believe in the home mortgage interest deduction: Shouldn’t the U.S. government stop engaging in social engineering? Shouldn’t the U.S. government stop engaging in those policies that artificially push people out of the homes that …

How we roll

Tearing down urban freeways to make room for a new bicycle economy

This is the second column in a series focusing on the economics of bicycling. Here’s one way to fund bicycle infrastructure: Stop building freeways in cities. Better yet, tear down the ones we already have. Cities are starting to catch on that becoming bicycle friendly is one of the best investments they can make. Cities are also starting to realize that removing freeways makes more economic sense than maintaining or expanding them. In the last year, with the help of federal and state funding, cities like Baltimore and New Haven have been demolishing the “highways to nowhere” that have divided …

Flyover country

I’m a rural resident. Where’s my subsidy check?

The view from Washington, D.C., of the rural Midwest: quaint scenery on the way to the West Coast. Photo: Scorpions and CentaursI’ve spent the majority of my life living in cities, albeit mostly small ones in Wisconsin that New Yorkers might not call metropolitan. Before I moved to Lyons, Neb., I lived in Washington, D.C. I truly appreciate the virtues of both urban and rural living. So it’s hard to understand why some urbanites criticize rural folks because we choose to make our home in a place without traffic where you can see the stars. My brow furrowed a bit …

Country cousins and city cousins

It’s the ‘burbs, stupid: on the Ezra Klein/Tom Vilsack dustup

Carried away: Ezra Klein and Tom Vilsack ride an imaginary “raft of subsidies.” This week, an interesting — and, I think, bizarre — argument broke out between Washington Post political blogger Ezra Klein and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The topic was whether rural residents deserve what Klein called a “raft of subsidies,” when in fact, “we still need cities.” Klein’s contributions to the debate were widely hailed as “brilliant” and Vilsack’s were widely deplored (see here and here); but I was left wondering what precisely the two were arguing about — and whether either one of them actually knew what …

you can't own property, man

How to not buy anything ever again

Photo: Toban BlackNeither a borrower nor a lender be? Stuff it, old man. Shareable has collected a primer on “collaborative consumption,” i.e. the fine art of consensual mooching. At the risk of sounding like a dangerous commie: It turns out there’s basically no reason to be the sole owner of anything ever again. Among the things Shareable shows you how to go splitsies on: Housing. If you can handle a housemate, sharing living quarters reduces your rent and can make your utilities usage more efficient. Our favorite: The cohousing directory, which helps you find communities with cooperative home ownership. Food …

New Jersey, on the other hand...

Where do the greenest commuters live? Not Portland

New Yorkers on the evening commute.Photo: Mo RizaQuick: Who are the loneliest commuters in the nation? That would be the residents of Southgate, Mich., where 91.6 percent of workers drive alone. The city with the most pedestrian commuters? That’s Ithaca, N.Y., where 41.8 percent of commuters walk  to work (particularly impressive given upstate New York’s brutal winters). Meanwhile, no one in Sun City, Calif., apparently walks to work. (Not too surprising, as the Southern California suburb is a master-planned retirement community.) Those are some of the thousands of data points on Americans transportation habits mined by FindTheBest, which might described …

Then we came to the end

James Howard Kunstler: The old American dream is a nightmare

Photo: Charlie SamuelsThe Great Depression gave rise to hobos and Hoovervilles. The Roaring Nineties brought us what New York Times columnist David Brooks termed “bobos in paradise.” Now our current round of layoffs and foreclosures has unceremoniously transferred millions of folks from the “affluent” to the “afflicted” category, exiling them from Brooks’s mythical exurban Eden. But instead of setting up tents, these newly poor live in a perpetual state of nestlessness, couch-surfing, or flitting from one basement rec room to the next. And rather than revisiting Hooverville, they’ve given our national landscape the barely-lived in, already abandoned suburban ghost towns …

Back-pedaling

Rep. Anthony Weiner tweets that he was ‘joking’ about ripping out NYC bike lanes

Rep. Anthony WeinerPhoto: Nadia ChaudhurySo Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) says he was just kidding around about ripping out those New York City bike lanes. Here’s how The New York Times reported Weiner’s remarks in a recent piece about New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan: “When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing?” Mr. Weiner said to [Mayor Mike] Bloomberg, as tablemates listened. “I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.” Weiner is considered one of five serious contenders in New York’s next mayoral election. This morning, …

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