Jeff Wood
Urban Reads

Do Orange Cones Put the Brakes on Autonomous Vehicles?

All the city news you can use.

By - Jul 16th, 2023 07:22 pm

Autonomous Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan undergoing testing in Los Altos, California. Photo by Dllu [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons.

Autonomous Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan undergoing testing in Los Altos, California. Photo by Dllu (CC BY-SA 4.0), from Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Business groups go in on bike lanes: Business improvement districts (BIDs) were formed in the 70s as a response to downtown struggles in the United States. BIDs prioritized car access and attracting white collar businesses. Now under a new threat of post pandemic employee schedules and work from home, they are embracing car free streets and bike infrastructure in an attempt to create more people friendly spaces. (John Surico | Bloomberg CityLab)

Activity centers reduce driving: Researchers at Brookings found that vehicle miles traveled could be reduced by 14,500 miles per year if people lived closer to downtowns and main streets in their communities. Looking at 110 metro areas, they found people in these areas reliably travel shorter distances before and even after the pandemic. The results of these shorter trips are reduced transportation costs and lowered emissions. (Adie Tomer & Carolina George | Brookings)

Week of the cone: A group of anti-AV activists in San Francisco has found a way to incapacitate driverless test cars by placing traffic cones on the hood angering vehicle companies Cruise and Waymo. Also, the activism comes right before an important hearing at the California state public utilities commission which has been pushed back twice in light of complaints from activists and officials in San Francisco. The approval of 24 hour operations for these vehicles was initially seen as a done deal. (Joe Kukura | SFist)

Did PPP loans lead to housing inflation? New research from the University of Texas shows that PPP funds given to struggling businesses during the pandemic were often used fraudulently and may have created home price inflation. The researchers believe that windfalls from fraudulent loans were likely to be stashed in real estate in areas that might have actually seen a home price depreciation. (Alexandra Hart | Texas Standard)

Shade is important as heat increases: Bus stops and playgrounds get really hot in the summer and often shade is hard to come by. Some measurements in Phoenix show temperatures getting as high as 160 degrees at bus stops in the direct sun. But fixing the issue means that cities and government agencies need to get more serious about providing shade and deal with the gauntlet of rules and regulations that makes providing cool spaces difficult. (Rebecca Leber | Vox)

Quote of the Week

The city should focus less on policies of willful denial—landowners imagining high rents and Amazon execs mandating against reality—and focus more on attracting eager small businesses. The city can do this by passing zoning regulations that favor or even mandate smaller square footage spaces. Let the weirdos, not the bros, take the lead in reviving downtown.

Josh Feit in PubliCola talking about how downtown Seattle can thrive going forward.

This week on the podcast we’re joined by Yale Law professor David Schleicher to talk about his new book, In a Bad State: Responding to State and Local Budget Crises.

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