Also: Can a cultural plan really save a city’s art scene? And what local papers mean for mayoral races.

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What We’re Following

Get on the right track: For years now, Cambridge, Massachusetts, has had a plan in the works to build a 20-mile network of separated bike lanes. Still, the Boston suburb only built one new mile of protected lanes last year. Now that effort is shifting into high gear: This week, city council voted to require permanent, protected bike lanes to be installed on any roadway within the plan when it is rebuilt, expanded, or reconfigured.

By mandating bike protections, CityLab’s Laura Bliss writes, “the city has created politically strategic armor to shield its transportation objectives from detractors.” The ordinance protects the bike plan from sliding back when faced with noisy opposition from less cycling-friendly neighbors or the expedient whims of less committed elected leaders. Can this policy help bike advocates from losing steam when faced with “bikelash?” We’ll see. Today on CityLab: Cambridge’s New Bike Lane Law is “Bikelash”-Proof

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

When Local Newsrooms Shrink, Fewer Candidates Run for Mayor

A study of 11 California newspapers shows that when cities have fewer reporters, political competition and voter turnout suffer.

Sarah Holder

Do Cultural Plans Really Help Cities Save Their Art and Music Scenes?

From D.C. to Dallas, cities are drafting documents to help protect their cultural resources from economic changes. But too often, these plans lack teeth.

Kriston Capps

How ‘Heartland Visas’ Could Reduce Geographic Inequality

Place-based immigrant visas could help revitalize America’s left-behind cities and regions, economic researchers say in a new report.

Richard Florida

An Illustrated History of the Electric Taxi

From the Electrobat to the Nissan Leaf, a century of New York—and the world’s—flirtation with battery-powered cabs.

Emma Jacobs

The Secret History of the Suburbs

We all know the stereotypes: Suburbia is dull, conformist, and about “keeping up with the Joneses.” But what about the suburbs of utopians and renegades?

Amanda Kolson Hurley


Salad Days

The fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen, has an affinity for hip-hop, offering up playlists and inspirational quotes from artists like Nas, Common, Jay-Z, and Public Enemy. Journalist Aaron Ross Coleman took notice of the company’s affinity for flipping hip-hop culture into marketing materials and mapped out the stores to reveal how 95 percent of them are in majority-white neighborhoods. He details his obsession with Sweetgreen’s swagger-jacking in The Nation:

After I noticed the brand’s hip-hop fixation, I decided to look to see if it was located in minority communities. This was a mission that almost gave me an astigmatism. I looked at stores and maps of New York, Philly, Boston, and elsewhere to little avail. Eventually, I compiled a spreadsheet of all the stores’ locations with the corresponding racial and economic census data of the neighborhood the store was located in, and the results were clear: To me, the stats conjured images of redlining maps from the 1950s.

On Twitter, Coleman gave CityLab’s Brentin Mock some inspiration credit, taking note of his coverage of the failed attempt to create Eagle’s Landing, Georgia, a country-club anchored city in Atlanta that cited an abundance of “Bojangles and Waffle Houses” as a reason to secede.


What We’re Reading

Los Angeles will create permanent memorials for bicyclists killed in crashes (Curbed)

Why is Britain so bad at planning cities? (The Guardian)

It’s a crumbling road to despair. Can New York fix the BQE? (New York Times)

Unpaid court fines, fees can get your water shut off (Stateline)

Pete Buttigieg revived South Bend with tech. Up next: America? (Wired)


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