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✊🏙 Cities MUST be for everyone; Uber doesn’t care about transit; Paris’ public housing success story; congestion pricing; greedy oligarchs; Airbnb; & more!

February 3 · Issue #71 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists,
I was crushed reading the story of Malaysia Goodson’s death this week. It really needs to be a wake-up call for transit agencies to accelerate accessibility upgrades; this is simply unacceptable, and we have to talk about it.
I also dig into the big deal being made about Uber’s addition of transit in Denver, and what the company is really doing. Then, after highlighting public housing last week, I describe Paris’ success story.
Finally, a bunch of other stories from around the world, including how oligarchs are making housing more expensive, upzoning leads to higher housing prices, transit will play a big role in the upcoming state election in New South Wales, and how Oslo transformed its downtown core.
There’s no Micromobility recap, however, because my flight got cancelled and there was no way to make it to SF in time for the conference, so the airline refunded my ticket and I stayed home. Maybe next time!
Have a great Sunday and enjoy this week’s issue!

Cities for everyone
The death of 22-year-old mother Malaysia Goodson is tragic and still makes me want to cry every time I think about it. Malaysia fell down the stairs of a New York City subway station on Monday evening while carrying her one-year-old child in a stroller because the station had no elevator and only had escalators going up.
The lack of accessibility in our cities, and on public transit in particular, is certainly not a new problem, but how it’s not a top concern in 2019 is absolutely beyond my comprehension. Transit, and cities in general, need to be accessible to everyone — mothers, children, people with disabilities, and various other minority groups. Design can’t simply accommodate the most abled and privileged among us, and where older structures don’t meet current standards, they need to be updated. It’s simple and really shouldn’t be a question of funding, especially when so much of the conversation around transit and mobility is about making people freer and expanding their access to the city; that needs to be for everyone.
Read this piece by Michael Gold and Emma G. Fitzsimmons in the New York Times to find out more about Malaysia, who is described as an outgoing person whose “daughter was the light of her life.” If you want to read more about the problem of accessibility on New York City’s subways, Claire Tran looks at the huge number of subway stations without elevators and what the MTA plans to do about it for CityLab, and Alia Wong gets even more in depth on how cities aren’t designed for parents in The Atlantic.
This should be a call to look at the larger inequities in our cities and how to make them work for everyone. Florida is the most dangerous state for pedestrians, but black pedestrians are 72% more likely to die as victims of drivers than white pedestrians. We also talk a lot now about how scooters and dockless bikes can improve mobility options and make streets safer, but I also wrote this week about why we need to address the parking issue for accessibility reasons — and how we might go about doing it.
But what can we do about the larger, structural problem? Allison Arieff suggests we need to get more women and minorities into architecture (and planning), and that a good first step to breaking down that barrier would be to pay them the same as men. Based on her article though, it seems the are many other issues that need to be addressed.
Finally, I want to leave you with this passage from Mimi Sheller’s fantastic 2018 book ‘Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes’. It calls for a rethinking of how we approach not just transportation, but mobility more generally — and it seems to be on sale if you want to pick it up. We must do better and demand better.
Uber's monopoly play
Uber made a big deal about adding transit to its app in Denver this week, and I just quickly want to provide you with the rebuttal to the hype that you certainly haven’t seen in most of the media reports that look like little more than a repackaged press release. This move is about PR, data, and monopoly; not about transit. Here’s why:
  • PR: As I included in issue 70, the evidence that ride hailing is having a negative impact on transit ridership is growing. Is it any coincidence then that all of a sudden Uber is making a big deal about adding transit in Denver when it’s supposedly already doing this in other cities? No, it’s not. They just want people to think they’re doing something positive, when this move isn’t about boosting transit ridership.
  • Data: As I argued previously, the impetus for Uber to start adding third-party services to its app isn’t about being a good corporate citizen, it’s about data and monopolism. By adding transit, Uber doesn’t care about increasing transit ridership; it just wants the data of where transit users are going. It’s the same reason it added Lime, Getaround, and others: to get their trip data, which increases Uber’s ability to better optimize its services and potentially launch rival services in the same way that Amazon replicates the best-selling products of third-party sellers, then directs customers to its private-label versions.
  • Monopoly: Uber’s inspiration from the Amazon’s platform monopoly is so blatant that CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has even said the company’s current goal is to become the “Amazon for transportation,” and it’s wrong for public authorities to be promoting this outcome. Yes, Denver RTD’s app sucks — as do those of many transit authorities — but cities will ultimately regret contributing to Uber’s monopoly efforts. Instead, they should be getting into the software-development space and making their own mobility-as-a-service apps comprising all the services in their jurisdictions to serve the public good. It’s time to throw away this neoliberal notion that public agencies can’t do anything well; they absolutely can with the proper determination and adequate funding.
So, don’t be fooled by Uber’s PR campaign. They don’t really care about promoting transit; they just want to try to fool the public into thinking they do, while sucking up more data in the process. We already have ample experience that private tech monopolies are not in the public good, so why are we helping create another one?
Simon Kuestenmacher
I have a new favourite transport related meme!

Sourced from this hilarious facebook group:
Public housing success
Last week, I placed a strong focus on public housing; in particular, the need to build much more of it to address the housing affordability crises. On Friday, Paris’ government hit 100,000 social housing units built over the past 18 years — about 5,500 units/yr — with more than 20% of residents living in social housing. I couldn’t find a good piece in English summarizing it, so I want to outline a few of the stats from the city’s announcement.
  • Paris is a city of renters — more than 60% of residents rent — but between 1995 and 2013, rents increased by 79%. However, the maximum social housing rent is €13/m², compared to an average of €23/m² in the private market. And whereas private rents increased 79% in ten years, public rents went up a maximum of 2%.
  • By 2025, 25% of units will be social housing with 7,000-7,500 units per year to meet its target. It plans to hit 30% social housing by 2030.
  • Paris designs social housing for particular groups: students and researchers (12,000 units), young workers (6,000), poor residents (4,800), seniors (2,000), and people with disabilities (1,000).
  • The buildings are designed to reduce the energy consumption of social housing by 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2050, based on 2004 levels.
As housing crises cause problems in cities around the world, Paris provides a great example of a concrete way for cities to relieve the rent burden on its residents: significantly increase the construction of public housing. Now.
Franklin Leonard
.@HowardSchultz was born in 1953 and grew up in the projects in the 1950s and 1960s

Those projects were paid for in part by folks paying a top marginal tax rate of 91%

But he doesn’t want to run as a Democrat because he might have to support a 70% rate so people have healthcare
Around the world
🏥 Traffic is a time waster and bad for the environment, but it’s also a public health problem that gets underplayed (along with all the other ills of driving)
🛣 Is congestion pricing inherently inequitable? New report argues it could actually be a solution to promote greater transportation equity.
🏘 Yonah Freemark’s new research provides more evidence that upzoning might not increase housing supply while leading to higher prices
🚌 “Free public transportation is the single biggest step we could take toward economic mobility, racial equity, and climate justice.” — Boston city councilor Michelle Wu
💰 One reason for higher housing prices we’re ignoring: oligarchs are buying real estate to clean their dirty money, and bidding up in the process
🇳🇴 Oslo removed 700 on-street parking spaces, invested in transit, added bike lanes, and subsidized e-bike purchases. Public bikeshare use tripled and some transit users switched to bikes, making transit more inviting to drivers.
🛴 After Brisbane’s trial, Benjamin Kaufman & Matthew Burke say scooter services will likely be a monopoly. Shouldn’t the transit agency run it?
🇦🇺 With a state election approaching, the right-wing Coalition hopes a new Sydney metro line (and plans for more) will help them win a third term, but will it be enough when solutions to crowded trains are years away?
🚨 Six years after Hurricane Sandy, NYC public housing still hasn’t been fully repaired and the agency lacks a plan to prepare for the next big storm
🇦🇹 From 1989-2015, walking and cycling grew in many European cities, but transit use only grew significantly in Vienna — and it has lessons to share
🚌 What does into designing textiles for public transit? The London Transport Museum’s new project provides some intriguing insights.
🇬🇧 As British politicians debated Brexit, the UK government released a statement outlining its latest cut to local councils
💸 Wisconsin promised Foxconn $4.5 billion in public subsidies. This week, it said it wouldn’t build the factory, then the chairman talked to Trump; now it will still build a factory, but a smaller one than previously planned.
🏙 Too many cities are expanding out instead of up, which will have negative environmental, social, and economic consequences
🇮🇶 As the concrete barriers finally come down, Baghdad faces many challenges to become a thriving city once again
🐕 In a move to make public spaces more open, Paris will let residents take dogs in many more public parks around the city
👎 New report on Airbnb shows the ones who benefit most “are already the wealthiest, and the whitest,” while rents increase and cities lose tax revenue
☀️ Solar rooftops are becoming more popular, but Black and Hispanic communities are far less likely to be able to install them
🔥 “When, after picking lifestyle over location, you gripe that the location you picked for yourself, with your own free will, is hard on your commute and that’s why we should all help ease your pain, the heart really fails to bleed.” — Brigitte Pellerin
By Paris:How to Fix the Scooter Parking Problem” (Medium)
Source: Florent Crivello
Source: Florent Crivello
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading. You can follow me on TwitterMedium, or Instagram for even more!
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