Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | January 29, 2016
While the Urban Edge strives to provide readers with daily news and insights about urban policy, we’re also voracious readers of city news ourselves. As part of a new weekly feature, Senior Editor Ryan Holeywell highlights the week’s most interesting articles from around the web about urban policy and city life.
The country’s focus is directed at Flint, Mich., where lead-contaminated water has plagued a low-income community for months. But a new paper suggests plenty of other places — especially poor communities — might face similar problems, the Washington Post’s Wonklbog reports. “It’s certainly not news that minority and low income communities face more than what some would say is their fair share of pollution from industrial sources,” says sociologist Mary Collins. “We found that actually, the burden they face from these superpolluters was even more extreme than you would think.”
A new study from real estate website Zillow says homes tend to increase in value when there’s a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods grocery store nearby, City Lab reports. Other studies have reached similar conclusions in the past, and they’ve suggested the effect of high-end grocery stores is greater than that of book stores, gyms, bike shops, or spas. But one problem with the study, City Lab notes, is that it’s hard to distinguish cause from effect, since stores like Whole Foods tend to target up-and-coming areas.
A data analysis of 22 million bike-share rides in New York City from 2013 to 2015 reveals some insights about bike-share usage. Manhattan cyclists tend to prefer roads with bike lanes; they use the service less in colder months; and they mostly use them for utilitarian purposes, Next City reports. The 10 million bike-share rides in 2015 is way less than the 175 million taxi trips or 35 million Uber riders New Yorkers took that year, but it still marks a 24 percent increase in use from 2014. Click the link above for more data nuggets.
For nearly a decade, transit ridership has declined in Southern California, despite major efforts to support it, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 10 percent drop in boardings from 2006 to 2015 comes despite the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $9 billion investment in new light rail and subway lines. Today, the agency has fewer boardings than it did 30 years ago, when buses were the region’s only transit option.
Local leaders believe the Houston area’s bayou network may contain hundreds of cars that have been submerged underwater for years, KUHF reports. A new pilot project that involves tow companies and underwater divers started removing those vehicles this month. Their first find: a 1987 Buick that was stolen 20 years ago.
, The crass, politically incorrect fill-in-the-blank game Cards Against Humanity now has an urban planning variation: Cards Against Urbanity, Governing reports. The game is meant to demystify some of the jargon surrounding urban planners so that concepts become more accessible to everyone who has a stake in a particular community or project. A sample of some of the cards: “The Hobby Lobby Guide to Tactical Urbanism,” “Shipping containers,” and “I’d rather have bollards.” Editor’s note: if you’ve spent time around urban planners, these are all hilarious.