America Needs a ‘Metropolitan Party’

A recent Economist profile on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock had this intriguing observation:

Asked if the Democrats concentrated success in cities is itself a sort of trap, the mayor agrees. He urges the Democrats to become “the metro party.” Politics, metro-style, requires appealing to moderates, liberals and even conservatives.

Rather than just an electoral strategy, what if we took this idea—a separate Metro Party—seriously? Let’s call them the “Metropolitans.”

The United States desperately needs a new political force that resists the nationalization of partisan politics and, instead, infuses both establishment parties with the pragmatic, problem solving modus operandi of leaders at the local and metropolitan level.

There is clearly a set of issues that sane metropolitan leaders across the red-blue divide can agree on: investing … Read the rest

A Better Way to Map Humanity’s Spread Around the Earth

As the human population grows, so does its footprint. To map these changes, researchers often turn to satellite imagery, because government-collected data can be infrequent and outdated. In particular, nighttime light images can offer a wealth of information about human activity. In fact, as CityLab’s Richard Florida has written, more than 3,000 studies since 2000 have used nighttime lights as a proxy for all sorts economic activities.

But nighttime maps aren’t perfect. “If you need to figure out how large a city is and where the boundary of a city ends, lights will spread, and a city will look too large relative to its actual size,” says Amit Khandelwal,  director of the Chazen Institute for Global Business at Columbia Business School. And there’s another problem: … Read the rest

New Delhi’s Modernist Icons Are Under Threat

Between 1969 and 1972, Indian architect Raj Rewal worked countless 18-hour days at Pragati Maidan (which translates to “progress grounds”), a site he was designing for India’s first major international trade fair, Asia 72. His nephew Arun often tagged along, perhaps laying the groundwork for his own eventual career as an architect and urban planner. He remembers those visits fondly.

“There was a carpenter who used to make these small toy cars for us. He had a place where he made models,” says the younger Rewal, who was seven when the site was completed.

But now the buildings his memories are made of are under threat, as the Indian government pushes forward with plans that would demolish Pragati Maidan’s most iconic buildings in favor of a Read the rest

Who Will Buy Baby Boomers’ Homes?

A recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies forecasts that the remodeling industry will remain robust over the next ten years. The growth will be driven, as ever, by the Baby Boomer generation, 80 percent of whom own homes, and two-thirds of whom have expressed a desire to “age in place.” This means that many of them are modifying their living quarters to include such “universal design” features as wider doors and hallways to accommodate wheelchair use.

Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—are a plentiful and relatively affluent lot; they’ve steered economic trends for decades. But as the oldest members of the generation amble into their 70s, housing analysts are wondering who will take up the mantle of remodeling—and home ownership—when they’re gone. Hopes … Read the rest

The Anatomy of a Great Dog Park

Dog parks where pups scamper off-leash have long been the fastest-growing segment of urban parks in the U.S., surging in number by 89 percent since 2007. As cities continue to stake out four-legged-friendly zones, how can we make sure hounds are getting the best experiences and not, say, surviving chaotic mosh pits of mud and snapping teeth?

Leslie Lowe is a landscape architect who helped design the Hugh Rogers Wag Park in Whitefish, Montana, dubbed one of the country’s 10 best dog parks in 2015 by USA Today. Her park includes a wealth of dog-pleasing features, including climbing rocks, tunnels, asphalt trails, a pond for splashing, shade trees, and an agility course. She’s now plotting out another in Fernie, British Columbia, and writing a … Read the rest

Life on the Forgotten Farms of Guangzhou

Few cities in history have urbanized as dramatically as Guangzhou, China. In just a few decades, the city’s urban area exploded beyond its borders, paving over agricultural land and merging with nearby cities to create the world’s largest megalopolis. Today it’s an economic powerhouse and a major industrial hub for a region of 44 million people. But increasingly hidden amid the towers and cranes of the region’s building boom are the farmers whose families have worked the land for generations, as well as the crops they continue to grow to feed themselves and make a living.

That dissonance between rural and urban, past and present, is on stark display in Village in the City, a short documentary by Tom Ford, a photojournalist and filmmaker with … Read the rest

No, Police Should Not Fine Cyclists Who Wear Headphones

The District of Columbia is now one year into its Vision Zero effort to end traffic fatalities in the city, and there’s still a lot of work to do.

As D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently noted, traffic deaths fell by about half over the past decade. In 2016, the city saw a slight uptick in total traffic fatalities (from 26 to 28) and a hike in traffic injuries (from 12,122 to 12,430), while it enjoyed a 40 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities.

To get closer to zero, the District Department of Transportation’s Vision Zero D.C. initiative is currently accepting public comments on its second round of proposed rules changes. Examples include raising penalties for speeding or parking in bike lanes, efforts to disincentivize bad behavior … Read the rest