Wed, 13 August 2014
Welcome to the dog days of summer! Before skipping town, Congress passed a transportation funding patch so they wouldn't have to deal with the real problem of the unsustainable way our nation builds and pays for infrastructure. I give the briefest possible rundown of where we are now before Jeff and I launch into discussions about the issues of the day: zoning and ride-share.
Houston is famous for its wild-west attitude toward zoning, but that laissez-faire approach was put to the test recently when residents of a single-family neighborhood protested the construction of a 23-story apartment building. No matter how the situation resolved itself, it was bound to have ripple effects through the development community.
We also talk about new services offered by Lyft and Uber that bring them a little closer to true ride-sharing -- though, as we note, they're still a far cry from the platonic ideal: hitchhiking.
Mon, 4 August 2014
In this week's podcast, Jeff and I take on the infamous New York City "poor door," designed to keep tenants of affordable units segregated from the wealthy residents that occupy the rest of the high-rise at 40 Riverside. In the process, we take on the assumptions and methods that cities use to provide housing, and by the time we're done, we've blown a hole in the whole capitalist system.
Then we investigate the reasons behind the assertion that "restaurants really can determine the fate of cities and neighborhoods." We determine that food is mostly a proxy for other needs people have related to where they live, but we do love a good pupusa.
And finally, we wrestle with the paradox that if we love nature, we should live in cities.
Wed, 23 July 2014
Welcome to Episode 29 of the Talking Headways podcast. In it, we evaluate the potential of Boston's attempt to "gentrification-proof" the Fairmount Line, building affordable housing to keep transit from displacing people with low incomes. Too often, the allure of transit raises rents, bringing in a new demographic of people who can pay them -- and who, ironically, usually have cars.
One innovative way to build affordable housing -- and keep your not-quite-grown kids under your watch at the same time -- is to build accessory dwelling units, or backyard cottages. They're a great way to increase density without bringing a lot of cars into the neighborhood, but see if you agree with our conclusion that they have limited utility.
On the other side of the spectrum is the McMansion, object of desire and scorn in equal measure. You might be surprised to hear Jeff's defense of the 3,000-square-foot house. And as a bonus, you'll get his distance runner's analysis of the difference between runability and walkability, in which he circles back yet again to the idyllic nature of his McMansiony suburban upbringing.
Mon, 30 June 2014
While most people know Walt Disney as the creator of lovable characters like Mickey Mouse and movies like Snow White and Fantasia, Disney doesn't get as much credit for his design of Disneyland. Turns out Disney made himself an expert on the subject.
This podcast isn't a typical Talking Headways conversation. It's a 45-minute episode, produced by Jeff for the Overhead Wire, on one topic: the history and ideas of Walt Disney the planner. Guests Sam Gennawey, an urban planner and author of three books on Walt Disney, and Tim Halbur, director of communications for the Congress for the New Urbanism, discuss in detail Walt’s focus on planning places for people in Disneyland, Disney World, and Celebration Florida.
We hope you’ll take a listen and enjoy. We'll be back next week with your regular dose of news and banter from Talking Headways.
Fri, 13 June 2014
The metro is coming to Loudon County. Eventually.
The Silver Line expansion that opens this summer will only go as far as Reston, but by 2018 it'll be in Loudon, one of the nation's fastest-growing -- and wealthiest -- counties.
As the county continues to add population density -- in large part by growing its communities of color -- will it hit 800 people per square mile, which is the threshold at which places magically turn from Republican to Democrat? And if it does, will it turn Virginia from purple to blue? And with such an important swing state shifting solidly to one camp, does that change the national political balance? And what is it with the number 800 anyway?
We try to figure it all out on this week's Talking Headways. Plus, Stephen Miller, my colleague from Streetsblog New York, joins us to talk about what is -- and what isn't -- moving forward as part of the city's Vision Zero plan.
And: Detroit is tearing down more than 20 percent of its housing stock to reduce blight and still splurges on roads. Is that the way to revitalize a city? The comments section awaits your comments.
And thanks to all who donated during our pledge drive! Your support keeps us going, in more ways than one.
Wed, 9 April 2014
Quick quiz: What city is the world leader in highway teardowns? San Francisco? Portland? Madrid?
Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's Seoul, South Korea, which has removed 15 urban highways -- and is about to remove another. In this week's Talking Headways episode, Jeff and I talk about what can take the place of a freeway in a city and why it's worth it.
We also debunk the argument, made in Atlantic Cities and the Washington Post last week, that promoting car access will benefit people with low incomes. The whole concept is based on a study that basically said that in the 90s you needed a car to get around the suburbs. Not exactly a persuasive justification for automobile subsidies in today's cities.
We wander down Saffron Avenue and Nutmeg Lane to investigate whether it's true that cities are losing their smell -- and whether that's really such a bad thing. Then we accidentally trip into a conversation about pheromones and good-smelling men.
What's your favorite smell in your city? Let us know in the comments.
Wed, 2 April 2014
Jeff and Tanya had a great time this week, getting all outraged at the short-sighted move by the Tennessee Senate to ban dedicated lanes for transit and high and mighty about cities that devote too much space to surface parking, at the expense of just about everything else. And then we treat ourselves to a fun conversation about the origin of the American playground -- and whether the entire city should be the playground.
We think you'll enjoy this one.
Meanwhile, have you subscribed to the Talking Headways podcast on iTunes yet? Well, why the hell not? And while you're at it, you know we'd love a little bit of listener feedback. Oh, you can also follow the RSS feed. And we love your comments, below.
Thu, 27 March 2014
It was a dark and stormy day in San Francisco and Jeff Wood stayed dry in Woonerf studios, recording the Talking Headways podcast with co-host Tanya Snyder, who was bitter that days after the spring equinox, Washington, DC, was getting hit with another snowstorm.
But more importantly -- will New York's gangbusters Citi Bike system wobble due to management issues and financial problems? What can Chicago (and, oh, every other American city) do to create more affordable housing in the neighborhoods everyone wants to live in? And is the self-driving car seriously going to become a reality by the end of this decade? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Jeff and Tanya take on all that and more. Or really, pretty much just that.
Wed, 12 February 2014
This week, Jeff Wood and I get morose and indignant, in turns, about Miami-Dade County's misuse of transit funds for roads and the depressing trend of pedestrian malls going belly-up. And then we peek behind the curtain at an exciting new frontier for urban planning: connecting urban form with the feelings they inspire. And then, just for you: a bonus Valentine's Day outtake at the end. How could you not listen to the whole thing?
Thu, 6 February 2014
Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl, who led the turn away from modernism and toward livable cities dominated by public space for people and not cars, is on a U.S. tour. Tanya got to sit down with him in Washington.
In this episode of Talking Headways, you can hear Gehl in his own words about everything from his assertion that "the tower is the lazy architect's answer to density" to the Moscow mayor's hyper-efficient way of getting people to stop parking on Main Street.
Direct download: Mixdown_final2_020514_podcast_jan_gehl_3837_w_pull_quote.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 4:44pm EDT