The Verge interviews Pete Buttigieg about what he hopes to achieve as the new head of the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition to sharing his thoughts on the rapid acceleration of EV adoption and transit’s tenuous recovery, Buttigieg devotes considerable attention to the role of micromobility in getting the country moving again, including the need for more protected bike lanes, incentives for commuters to switch to lightweight electric vehicles, and his personal experience as a cyclist in Washington, DC during his first months on the job.
The New Yorker captures the inside story of how New York City finally caught up to the rest of the world and learned to embrace electric scooters. What’s great about this article is how it blends a firsthand account of the intense competition that happens between scooter startups as they vie for coveted permits, with a larger narrative about why these funny, little two-wheeled devices matter so much to the future of transportation. Key quote: “No other vehicle on the road has a higher proportion of brains to brawn.”
Janette Sadik-Khan has a message for all the city mayors around the world who are considering giving up car-free streets once lockdown is over: Stay the course. In a new op-ed published in The Atlantic, the legendary urban planner argues that the pandemic presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break cities’ dependence on cars, and that all the bike lanes, outdoor dining, and pedestrianized plazas that were created in the last year should be made permanent. “For cities to return to the pre-pandemic status quo would be a historic blunder. Last year’s innovations provided a road map—no pun intended—for undoing the planning sins of the 20th century.”
As Joe Biden pushes a colossal—and costly—proposal to rebuild America’s infrastructure, Foreign Policy investigates why China has been so successful at securing investment for its most ambitious capital projects. One advantage for China is that, following the privatization of its housing stock in the late 1990s, land prices have been skyrocketing across the country. Increasing property values are a massive source of revenue for local Chinese governments, helping pay for everything from upgraded power grids to new subway lines. Unfortunately for the Biden administration, it can’t count on such a windfall to fund its own infrastructure agenda.
Even as the vaccine rollout accelerates and major cities reopen, bus and train ridership remains persistently low in the United States—65% less than the pre-pandemic normal nationally. Bloomberg CityLab looks at how a permanent transition to telework among some white-collar professionals could crush mass transit’s ability to serve everyone else. Federal aid is helping public transportation providers stay afloat for now, but when that runs out, the authors warn, “the crisis could stop a decades-long effort to reclaim cities from car-enabled sprawl, creating denser, walkable cores with businesses and housing alike.”