Also: A simple fix for better bus lanes, and closing in on Trump's real estate assessments.
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What We’re Following
Testing the waters: In a special election this week, the residents of Toledo, Ohio, took the unusual step of adopting a bill of rights for a lake. A ballot measure will amend the city’s charter to establish that Lake Erie has the right to “exist, flourish, and naturally evolve,” giving legal rights to the source of drinking water for 11 million people.
Toldeo’s move makes it the first municipality in the country to adopt a “rights-of-nature” law over a certain ecosystem. The action is already being challenged in court, but if it stands, it will allow citizens to sue polluters on the Great Lake’s behalf without having to demonstrate injury to a human. Past problems with Lake Erie’s water quality prompted activists to find new ways to safeguard it. “For three days in 2014, we lost access to our drinking water, and we didn’t see any action come out of that,” one organizer tells CityLab’s Nicole Javorsky, “We wanted to do something for ourselves.”
More on CityLab
Red Carpet Treatment
There’s a simple reason why commuters typically prefer trains over buses: Buses have to share. The rubber-tired coaches could almost run as reliably as rail if not for all those other vehicles on the road. That’s why city leaders should be bullish about building dedicated bus lanes, or to “tactical transit lanes,” to whip up bus-only infrastructure on the cheap, according to a new report from UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies. Simply by running pilots with cones, a city can figure how much faster buses can run when they have their own lane. Once people see the benefits, cities can lay down a coat of red paint and just add service. CityLab’s Laura Bliss has the how-to guide: To Build a Better Bus Lane, Just Paint It
What We’re Reading
New York leaders urge Bezos to reconsider Amazon dumping the city (Bloomberg)
How tiny shotgun houses could help solve Dallas’s housing crisis (Dallas News)
Op-ed: The new “dream home” should be a condo (New York Times)
“They’re cutting everything”: As coal disappears, Appalachians lose access to basic services (Southerly)