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✊🏙 ONE YEAR 🎉 Building sustainable cities 🌳 New Uber safety features 📱 High-speed rail news 🚄

Happy anniversary, urbanists! I know this is only the 51st issue of the newsletter, but because I too
September 16 · Issue #51 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Happy anniversary, urbanists!
I know this is only the 51st issue of the newsletter, but because I took a week off around the new year, this issue marks one year since I started Radical Urbanist. I’ve learned a ton over the year I’ve been curating the newsletter, and I’m so happy that more than 300 of you (so far!) decided to join me in looking at the major issues facing cities around the globe.
As usual, I have another great issue for you this week, looking at sustainability, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s impact on Uber, and high-speed rail news, but I also want to make a request.
If you like getting Radical Urbanist in your inbox every Sunday, I would really appreciate if you could share it with 5 people you feel would find value in it. The more people it can reach, the better!
Finally, over the next year there are a few issues I want to delve into more deeply. The intersection of tech and cities is a major aspect of the newsletter — including autonomous vehicles, app-based transport, and smart cities — but I also want to look more at climate change and the impact of inequality on urban centers.
Earlier this month, I entered the geography Master’s program at McGill University in Montreal, where I’ll be doing research on tech and transportation that will surely inform the focus of my writing and this newsletter. If you’re doing work on similar issues, I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks again for subscribing, and have a great Sunday!

Building sustainable, liveable cities
Climate change is the biggest threat we face as a species, and cities will be key to altering the way we live to become more sustainable and reduce emissions. It won’t be easy, but cities are already making moves in the right direction.
19 cities recently agreed to make all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030 — a good move, but existing buildings and their emissions will also need to be addressed. Another group of 45 cities have committed to protect their forests, recognizing their importance as green spaces for the public, habitats for animals, and heat sinks, along with many other benefits.
In addition, better infrastructure will have to be built to facilitate the shift from automobiles to more efficient forms of transportation, like bikes and buses, but that should also provide the opportunity to add more trees along streets, which can provide shade, slow traffic, and much more. The Dutch were in San Francisco this week to provide advice on how to encourage people to stop using their cars so much.
One thing that will be important to promote sustainability and liveability: making cities more compact. Sprawl is expensive, energy-intensive, and “is conservatively estimated to cost around 7 percent of national GDP” in the United States. Not to mention how it makes so many aspects of life more difficult and costly, just to get a bit more space while promoting nonsocial behavior.
Uber's transformation continues
Celebrating one year as CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi recently laid out a number of measures he’s taking to make Uber safer for riders and drivers, including crash detection, location-sharing to 911 operators in certain jurisdictions, and the ability for riders to share their locations with trusted contacts.
It’s undeniable that Khosrowshahi has done a lot to change the company’s image in the year since he took over from disgraced former CEO Travis Kalanick, but his direction for the company really seems to be coming into focus in the past few months.
The shift away from autonomous vehicles to micromobility has become clear as Uber purchased Jump Bike and announced plans for its own scooter service, and these new safety features are a continuation of initiatives Khosrowshahi has put into place over the past year to improve the driver and rider experiences.
However, this doesn’t mean that Uber is now a socially responsible company — far from it. It still fights cities on plenty of issues, including data sharing; drivers aren’t paid well and the company opposed New York City’s recent initiative to increase driver pay; and its vehicles are contributing to congestion in major centers. Khosrowshahi is making some good moves, but Uber still deserves to be assessed through a critical lens.
For example, this week the Outline had a story on the $70 classes Uber drivers need to take to get reactivated when their ratings fall below 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Global progress on high-speed rail
There was plenty of news about high-speed rail projects this past week, and it was all pretty good. The Singapore-Malaysia delay may seem like a negative story, but given it was expected to be cancelled outright, we’ll take the delay for the time being.
Other great reads
🛍 Is consumption the problem, or the “undemocratic, exploitative, and unsustainable” form of capitalist consumption?
🇸🇪 Alissa Walker’s trip to Sweden showed her what needs to change about transit in the US
Rent stabilization could cover 200,000 people in LA County
🛣 Autonomous vehicles are the future because the US will never effectively invest in transit. (I don’t agree, but compelling take.)
🏘 Is the “missing middle” really missing, and should it even be the goal?
🤗 Montreal’s new homelessness strategy focuses on social inclusion
Ⓜ️ Left-wing Quebec Solidaire proposes building 38 new metro stations in Montreal, but is only projected to get ~12% of votes in October 1 provincial election
🇳🇿 How and why New Zealand should eliminate parking minimums
🚲 Do e-scooters and e-bikes create the need for speed limits in bike lanes?
🤦🏻‍♀️ Oops! I forgot to add the link to the cyberpunk article last week, so here it is if you didn’t email me or check my Twitter.
How Japan’s Bullet Trains Changed Travel
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading. You can follow me on TwitterMedium, or Instagram for even more!
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