Jeff Wood
Urban Reads

The Death of Retail

All the city news you can use.

By - May 13th, 2018 12:24 pm
Boston Store Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Boston Store Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Every day at The Overhead Wire we sort through over 1,500 news items about cities and share the best ones with our email list. At the end of the week, we take some of the most popular stories and share them with Urban Milwaukee readers. They are national (or international) links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Behavioral design can improve quality of life: A small nudge here and there via text message can drastically improve quality of life in a city. For example, the subway is crowded when the Cubs are playing, but a reminder and free ride voucher was able to reduce crowding 17% during those times. If more cities can employ behavioral design, the hope is that human services can function better and increase wellbeing. (Fast Company)

Boring and debt ridden retail is dead: At this particular moment in time e-commerce is being blamed for the death of retail. The pronouncement may be premature as some sectors of the retail industry are growing while others are not being affected just by Amazon, but rather ballooning debt and an overbuilt retail market from the 1980s and 1990s. (Urbanism Next)

Calming the autonomous vehicle hype: For many reasons autonomous vehicles are the hot new discussion item. Transit agencies are directly in the crossfire but would do well to think of these four discussion topics as they pertain to the overall discussion; urban space is scarce, the timeline for AV adoption is uncertain, goals for the future and definitions for success should be clear, and transit agencies should start making themselves more competitive now instead of waiting. (TransitCenter)

Who is winning the self driving car race?: Several companies are competing to be the first to launch autonomous ride hailing services yet only one (Waymo) has a big edge over the others. It’s important to each company because there seems to be a big prize at the end of the challenge, money. Operating margins for auto companies have the possibility of doubling without drivers making all of the money being spent on the race a small investment in their future. (Bloomberg)

From steel mills to greenhouses: Steel mills long abandoned after thier companies went bankrupt are now being repurposed as greenhouses to grow urban agriculture. Gotham Greens uses the mills to grow produce with zero pesticides in less space using more intelligent systems. The newest greenhouse in Baltimore employs 60 people but could expand to 9,500 over time. (Fast Company)

Quote of the Week

With the two decisions, the M.T.A. dealt the subway system a blow that may be felt well into the future. First, the agency decided to increase the amount of space required between trains. It installed or modified hundreds of signals, which regulate train spacing. In that process, signals throughout the system were misconfigured — set up in a way that slowed the trains down even more than officials intended. Second, the agency adopted new rules for track work that expanded safety zones and increased setup times.

Adam Pierce in the New York Times discussing why the NYC Subway has slowed so much.

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