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: 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.

MapLab: Killer Apps

A biweekly tour of the ever-expanding cartographic landscape.

photo: A woman crosses an overpass above the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, California.

Navigation Apps Changed the Politics of Traffic

In an excerpt from the new book The Future of Transportation, CityLab’s Laura Bliss adds up the “price of anarchy” when it comes to traffic navigation apps.

MapLab: Census, Sense Us

A biweekly tour of the ever-expanding cartographic landscape.

Apple CEO Tim Cook (left) and California Governor Gavin Newsom look at a map of San Jose

What’s Missing From Apple’s $2.5 Billion Housing Plan

Apple is the latest tech giant to commit funds to California’s housing crisis. But experts say the largest barrier to housing is not money; it's political will.

Photo: Media members report on a burning home as a firefighter douses flames during the Hillside fire in the North Park neighborhood of San Bernardino, California on October 31, 2019.

California’s Wildfires Are Not a Morality Tale

The fire-scorched state’s history has long been marked by calamities. But its latest disaster did not come to teach Californians a lesson.

photo: A man pushes a stroller through a crosswalk after dusk in Atlanta, Georgia.

It’s Getting Riskier to Walk and Bike After Dark

The last decade has seen a gruesome rise in nighttime traffic fatalities for walkers and bike riders, with no conclusive explanation.

a photo of Jump e-bikes

Uber’s Beef With L.A. Is Bigger Than Data

The ride-hailing giant is convinced that L.A.’s data-tracking tool is violating state privacy laws. But the stakes for its business go further.

photo: A firefighter works to clear a house destroyed by a wildfire in Los Angeles.

California Contemplates a Dark and Fiery Future

A fresh round of wind-fanned wildfires and planned power outages is darkening the fate of Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest electric power utility.

An Alabama fan celebrates during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Inside the College Football Game-Day Housing Boom

Game-day housing demands are driving up rents, hollowing out neighborhoods, and stoking the real estate market for second homes aimed at alumni fans.