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✊🏙 Great transit requires density, Amazon’s Nashville office takes over site of struggling publisher, & much more!

Hey urbanists, Had funding efforts in the 1970s not been slashed by Reagan, US transit might look ver
November 25 · Issue #61 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists,
Had funding efforts in the 1970s not been slashed by Reagan, US transit might look very different today; the backlash still hasn’t ended over Amazon’s new headquarters (and operations center); and you should really read a bit about the new climate report out of the US.
Have a great Sunday

Can the US have great transit?
Americans can be skeptical about transit. For many, it’s seen as a last-resort mode of transportation that’s falling apart and only exists for poor people to get around — but we know that transit is so much more than that and can be so much better than it is today.
Patrick Sisson has a great piece in Curbed this week about efforts to fund transit by the US federal government in the 1960s and 1970s, which were ultimately slashed when Reagan took power. As urbanists, we talk about how the Dutch successfully challenged automobility in favor of bikes in the 1970s, but we don’t recall the failed challenges elsewhere.
This marks the day when the automobile stops getting a monopoly of favored treatment from the federal government. — SF mayor Joseph Alioto in 1974 after signing of key bill
In Christof Spieler’s new book about US transit, he notes that density is key to having a great transit system and that to have better transit in US cities, the goal needs to be to increase density. Alon Levy recently wrote about transit in LA, and made the same point: LA doesn’t have great transit now, but it could if it densifies more areas.
Some good news this week: the US finally legalized modern commuter rail trains that are commonly used in Europe.
Auckland Transport
In the morning peak, only 10% of the vehicles on Fanshawe St are buses, but they carry 78% of the people travelling. That means that 10,134 people in the 2-hour morning peak are in buses and 2,922 in cars.
The 257 buses carry nearly four times as many people as the 2351 cars.
Anger at Amazon continues...
Speaking of transit, Laura Bliss wrote about the importance of transit to Amazon’s choice of NYC and DC for CityLab this week. Their transit networks may be facing challenges, but they may be the only ones that can most easily absorb 25,000 new residents.
Amazon is also pushing to rename the area of Virginia where it will build its new offices “National Landing,” but this is nothing new for tech companies. Google’s been doing it for a while.
Amazon didn’t just choose those two cities—the ecommerce giant will also create 5,000 jobs in Nashville as part of a new operations center. Yet even there, people are nervous about what that will mean for affordability in the city. This passage from Cari Wade Gervin’s article stood out:
one couldn’t help noting the irony of the news that the tech company will occupy an office tower on the former site of LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention—which downsized to smaller offices thanks in no small part to Amazon’s cannibalization of book sales.
Lee J. Carter
Billionaire philanthropy in 3 steps:
1) Create a crisis (housing affordability and homelessness in this case)
2) Raid the public coffers that are supposed to be used to fight that problem
3) Give a tiny piece of that money to a charity that works on the problem you created
Other great reads
🚨 US government released a climate report on Thanksgiving to bury it, but you should read its dire warning that thousands will die and the economy take a hit worse than the Great Recession without swift action.
🤦🏻‍♀️ British Columbia may legalize Uber right after Vancouver hit a new transit record
💰 We can’t rely on private developers for affordable housing. They don’t care about homes; they just want to make more money.
📈 As housing costs rise in Auckland, is the New Zealand Dream still a reality for Pacific Islanders?
🇦🇺 Victorian Labor won a sweeping victory in state elections on Saturday. A key promise is a A$50 billion suburban rail loop for Melbourne.
🏠 “A slavish devotion to home ownership” has attached a stigma to renting in Canada, but as rates of ownership drops, that may finally be starting to change
🇳🇿 “We want to make the central city a place to go to not a place to go through.” Auckland may finally pedestrianize Queen Street.
😡 Amazon’s new HQs in DC and NYC could push 800 people in homelessness, and we know how Jeff Bezos reacts to efforts to help homeless people (in case you forgot)
🤳 Architects are increasingly designing with Instagram in mind, but is that good for cities?
🇨🇦 Montreal’s revamped main downtown street to have wider sidewalks and fewer parking spaces, but some people aren’t happy
🛴 “Has any mode of transportation captured our city’s imagination the way these goofy wheeled devices have?” How San Francisco chose which scooter companies would get permits.
Jon Orcutt
My first run on the West 13th St protected #BikeNYC lane. All in all a pretty classic NYC bike lane experience
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading. You can follow me on TwitterMedium, or Instagram for even more!
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