Also: How pollution affects school performance, and Paris parks loosen up.
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What We’re Following
Tire festival: The micromobility gold rush is just beginning, and well, there’s a lot of little vehicles to show for it. At last week’s Micromobility Conference in the Bay Area, gyroscopic skates, pedal-powered pontoon boats, and even unicycles were presented as plausible ways of getting around without a car. (At one point, a motorized office desk made an appearance, too.) With the explosion of shared bikes and scooters over the past few years, almost no concept seems too far-fetched; in the past four years, global investors have thrown more than $5.7 billion at micromobility startups.
One idea that didn’t get as much airtime at the conference was the issue of rider safety. Aside from some collapsible helmets, precautionary ideas like infrastructure or insurance just aren’t as flashy to unveil at a Silicon Valley showcase. That could be changing, though, as the hard numbers about injuries and sustainability emerge, making it critical to the future of this rapidly growing industry. CityLab’s Laura Bliss was on the scene to hear what the tech evangelizers and their critics think the future holds for a little-vehicle-topia. Read her dispatch: The Micromobility Gold Rush Has Only Just Begun
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City on a Hill
Ahead of tonight’s State of the Union, we wanted to know how often presidents have talked about cities in their annual addresses. CityLab’s David Montgomery created the chart above of how mentions of “city,” “cities,” or “urban” compared with the total length of each address, as compiled by the American Presidency Project. Some of those early mentions are quite literal: The first instance of the word “city” came when George Washington brought up a capital city to be built on the Potomac in his third address, in 1791. By 1878, Rutherford B. Hayes dedicated a few paragraphs to the “vital importance” of improving Washington’s waterfront for the sake of public health and expanding the National Mall.
By the 1960s, cities took on a much more political valence. Lyndon Johnson unveiled his Model Cities program in his 1967 address (“We have set out to rebuild our cities on a scale that has never been attempted before”) and Richard Nixon touted his law-and-order tactics as a topline success in 1972 (“Our cities are no longer engulfed by civil disorders”). Another honorable mention: Ronald Reagan called America a “city on a hill” in his final 1988 address.
Did you find a very CityLab SOTU quote that you liked? Send us a note at email@example.com.
What We’re Reading
In the American West, skylines are rising instead of growing out (Washington Post)
How SimCity influenced the next generation of planning and politics (Logic)
What’s it like living in a city with no Uber or Lyft? Ask Vancouver. (Slate)
The pencil towers of New York City (The Guardian)
How a no-knock raid turned into a shootout in Austin (The Appeal)