The Shared City

Rise and Shine: Lies, Damned Lies and Bike Crash Statistics

Vancouver’s Dunsmuir Street separated bike lane. Credit: Paul Krueger

(Note, these "Rise and Shine" posts will be a regular morning roundup of links. Tips if you’ve got ‘em.)

  • Vancouverites are battling over whether "fudged" accident data are being used to make the case for bike lanes. (The mayor’s staying out of it; he recently bought a house along a would-be route.)
  • Provo is following on the heels of Kansas City and Austin in becoming a Google Fiber city. But in Utah, there’s a twist: Google is hoping to get a gigbit into town by buying and upgrading the city-owned iProvo network.
  • Uber is looking for more funding, and is said to be valued in the billions.
  • Speaking of Google Fiber and Uber, the latter’s CEO recently described a strategy of "Celebrate the cites" — as in figuring out what’s unique about an urban environment it’d like to work in, and "then creat[ing] management structures that are sort of geared around that." That’s a technique that Google, for one, has championed with its Fiber projects. It’s KC headquarters featured the Polish nut roll povitica in its café and the giant shuttlecock at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on its wallpaper.
  • The Department of Better Technology (who?) has launched Adopta, a platform for getting citizens to take responsibility for, well, whatever. It’s provenance is as the Code for America project Adopt-a-Hydrant, but it is licensed under the permissive BSD license, which means that you could have launched Adopta, too. Still, getting buy-in remains the hard part. "Adopting a hydrant, everyone kind of smiles at right away," said Nigel Jacob of Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in an interview earlier this year. "But there’s a whole level of work that has to go into these programs to get them used." (Open software or not, DBoT is giving back — as in 10% of their profits to them that birthed the code: "We recognize that with Adopta.co, we’re only standing on the shoulders of giants — that is to say, Code for America deserves a massive amount of gratitude for being the ones to initially develop & market Adopt-a-Hydrant.")
  • Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky was asked whether he worries about a safety catastrophe. The numbers, he said, reassure him: "In fact, the thing that surprises most people is not how many times this is a problem, but how many times this works."
  • H&R blocks tackles the question of whether you need to tell the IRS about that Airbnb rental.
  • New York City launches Water Street Pops, a series of festive events along the Sandy-damaged lower Manhattan waterfront that is also a triumph of synergistic branding. The name evokes the Boston Pops, which got its own name from a shortening of "popular concerts." But it is, more concretely, a reference to "Privately Owned Public Spaces," a.k.a. POPs. (Think Zuccotti Park.)
  • New Orleans agrees to food truck rules that have no buffer zone for existing eateries.
  • The foundation was poured Friday for Santa Cruz’s Walnut Commons, a co-housing project designed by the people who will live in it. The project sees itself as particularly special: "Cohousing is exploding across suburban America. Walnut Commons is unique in that it’s a single building and decidedly urban."
  • A generally interesting report from the Pew Charitable Trusts on how states handle failing cities includes a look (page 26) at Rhode Island’s once-bankrupt Central Falls, where "state officials say they convinced the stakeholders of their sincerity through transparency: showing the retirees the numbers and building the case that they would otherwise eventually lose benefits altogether."
  • San Francisco’s hopping tech industry is getting credit for generating so much tax revenue that the city was able to compensate for federal cuts to HIV/AIDs programs.
  • The New Yorker has its way with a month’s worth of Citibike data. Revealed is that Gothamites are weekend wanderers: "[C]ommutes are replaced by patternless, recreational movement, in which bikers meander around the city." Here’s the map in full.
  • And a reader — we have a reader! — asks if there exists anywhere comprehensive way of identifying city spaces available for pop-up stores, events, what have you, where leases might last for as little as a day. If you know, let me know.

The Shared City is made possible with the support of The Knight Foundation.

Nancy Scola is a journalist and writer whose work on the intersections of technology and politics has been published by The American Prospect, Capital, Columbia Journalism Review, New York, Reuters, Salon, Science Progress, Seed, and other publications. She is a correspondent on technology and politics for The Atlantic. She was previously the associate editor of techPresident, a widely-read daily online publication of the Personal Democracy Forum. She’s talked about governing, campaigns, political organizing, technology policy, digital media and more on the BBC, CNN.com, MSNBC, and WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” and frequently appears on conference panels.

Tags: shared citycivic techbike-shareuberairbnbride-sharingciti bikegoogle fibertelecommunications