Laura Bliss

Laura Bliss

Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.

Photo: A protected bike lane along San Francisco's Market Street, which went car-free in January.

Why Would a Bike Shop Fight a Bike Lane?

A store owner is objecting to San Francisco’s plan to install a protected bike lane, because of parking worries. Should it matter that it’s a bike shop?

photo: Uber and Lyft vehicles.

Ride-Hailing Isn’t Really Green

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that the environmental impact of Uber and Lyft rides is 69% worse than the transportation modes they replace.

animated illustration: cars, bikes, scooters and drones in motion.

This City Was Sick of Tech Disruptors. So It Decided to Become One.

To rein in traffic-snarling new mobility modes, L.A. needed digital savvy. Then came a privacy uproar, a murky cast of consultants, and a legal crusade by Uber.

photo: Utah Department of Transportation workers inspect a highway bridge under construction on Interstate 15 in American Fork, Utah.

What 4 Years of Trump’s Transportation Budgets Add Up to

In his 2021 budget request, President Trump sends mixed messages about federal funding for highways, bridges, and railways. Sound familiar?

photo: a cul-de-sac in Utah.

Across the Globe, Urban Sprawl Is Spreading

Satellite images dating back to 1975 allow researchers to map how millions of cul-de-sacs and dead-ends have proliferated in street networks worldwide.

photo: a man watches a wildfire.

A New Therapy for an Age of ‘Climate Grief’

An emerging cohort of therapists and artists are developing novel ways to help people process the anxiety and helplessness triggered by “climate grief.”

photo: an apartment in Oakland, CA

The Last Days of SB50, California’s Doomed Upzoning Bill

Senate Bill 50, the transit-housing legislation championed as a market-based response to the affordability crisis, will not become law.

photo: a car-free stretch of Market Street in San Francisco

The Spine of San Francisco Is Now Car-Free

The plan to ban private cars from Market Street—one of the city’s busiest and most dangerous downtown thoroughfares—enjoys a remarkable level of local support.

photo: A Lyft scooter on the streets of Oakland in July.

4 Predictions for the Electric Scooter Industry

Dockless e-scooters swept cities worldwide in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, expect the battery-powered micromobility revolution to take a new direction.

photo: subway in NYC

Inside Bloomberg's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

Drawing on his time as New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg proposes handing power and money to urban leaders as part of his Democratic presidential bid.

photo: San Diego's Trolley

Out of Darkness, Light Rail!

In an era of austere federal funding for urban public transportation, light rail seemed to make sense. Did the little trains of the 1980s pull their own weight?

photo: Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Wins Endorsement From the Internet’s Premier Urbanist Meme-Makers

In backing the Vermont senator, the popular Facebook group “New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens” is leveraging some offline political clout.

photo: NYC subway

Behind the Gains in U.S. Public Transit Ridership

Public transportation systems in the United States gained passengers over the second and third quarters of 2019. But the boost came from two large cities.

photo: a video doorbell screen on a smartphone

How the On-Demand Economy Reshaped Cities

Since 2010, a slew of on-demand companies and technologies have managed to use consumer data to transform the commercial significance of urban living.

The Maps That Made You, Dear Readers

From CityLab’s mailbag: Here are the personal stories about how maps shaped your lives.

photo: A man boards a bus in Kansas City, Missouri.

Why Kansas City’s Free Transit Experiment Matters

The Missouri city is the first major one in the U.S. to offer no-cost public transportation. Will a boost in subsidized mobility pay off with economic benefits?

photo: a Tower Records Japan Inc. store in Tokyo, Japan.

The Bankrupt American Brands Still Thriving in Japan

Cultural cachet, licensing deals, and density explain why Toys ‘R’ Us, Tower Records, Barneys, and other faded U.S. retailers remain big across the Pacific.

photo: a woman on an electric scooter

Most Electric Scooter Riders Are Men. Here's Why.

Most users of micromobility devices like dockless scooters and e-bikes are young men. Fixing that gender gap may take more than just adding safety features.

MapLab: The Power of Counter-Maps

A biweekly tour of the ever-expanding cartographic landscape.

What Happens When a City Tries to End Traffic Deaths

Several years into a ten-year “Vision Zero” target, some cities that took on a radical safety challenge are seeing traffic fatalities go up.

photo: Chris Burden's "Urban Light," installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, features several of L.A.'s historic streetlight styles.

The Future of the Streetlight Might Be in the Past

A new competition from the L.A. mayor’s office invites designers to reimagine the rich history of civic illumination and create next-generation streetlights.