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.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Did AOC’s Questions on Trump’s Real Estate Valuations Unlock His Tax Returns?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilled Michael Cohen on the real estate dealings of Donald Trump. Cohen’s replies may open access to Trump's elusive tax returns.

Tanvi Misra and Kriston Capps

First Nations in Canada Are Demanding Property Rights

Changing or abolishing the Indian Act in order to allow private land ownership may seem like a logical solution, but it’s not without its criticisms.

Tracey Lindeman

The High Price of Cheap Gasoline

When gas prices stopped falling, Americans again began to drive less.

Joe Cortright

What Cities Are Getting Wrong About Public Transportation

Cities could get more people walking, biking, and riding transit, according to a new report, if they just know where to look for improvement.

Andrew Small

Welcome to Technopolis

In Episode 1 of our new podcast, we ask: Why did investors pour so much money into urban tech? And is all that venture capital good for the people in cities?

Molly Turner and Jim Kapsis


Red Carpet Treatment

Let them see red. (SFMTA)

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)


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