Also: France pumps the brakes on a gas tax increase, and how Obamacare kept people from losing their homes.
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What We’re Following
Closer than they appear: With the year coming to a close, Congress might yet pull off a last-minute push for the first federal law regulating self-driving cars. The Verge reports that lawmakers are reviving a push for a Senate bill to allow for the field testing of autonomous vehicles, picking up after the House passed a bill unanimously in September 2017.
The draft legislation would give automakers exemptions to manufacture vehicles without steering wheels or gas and brake pedals. It would also collect federal crash data on the automated vehicles currently on the road, and require that vehicles be able to detect all types of traffic—including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
Though a few high-profile crashes temporarily sidelined some testing this year, the industry has carried on, with some promises of fully autonomous services coming next year. Last month, I took a test ride in Ford’s self-driving car in Miami, which the company has set to deploy commercially by 2021. That’s cautious by comparison, but its testing is about to enter a new challenging phase: operating in a complex urban environment. At times, the autonomous vehicle felt safer than the cars around us. But will cities be ready when it’s time to let go of the wheel? Here’s what I saw when I was down in Miami: When Self-Driving Cars Meet Florida Drivers
More on CityLab
Off the Books
Here’s a plot twist for you: New York City’s Strand bookstore, which opened in 1927, does not want to be declared a landmark despite its reputation as a cultural institution. At a public hearing on Tuesday, the book store’s owner Nancy Bass Wyden plans to tell the city’s preservation commission that the restrictions that come with the designation would actually harm the business.
“By landmarking the Strand, you can also destroy a piece of New York history,” Wyden told the New York Times. She also had something to say about the move coinciding with the city’s deal with Amazon:
“The richest man in America, who’s a direct competitor, has just been handed $3 billion in subsidies. I’m not asking for money or a tax rebate,” Ms. Wyden said. “Just leave me alone.”
What We’re Reading
Street vendors, a fixture of city life, are finally legal in Los Angeles (Next City)
NYC has just 5 statues of historic women. That’s about to change (NPR)
Amtrak can’t get its story straight on train-boarding rules (Vox)
On the front porch, black life in full view (New York Times)