Courtesy of Yo Respeto al Peatón

Also: What is the “soul of the city”? And how to build NIMBY-proof homeless shelters.

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What We’re Following

Not all heroes wear capes: Sure, bike lanes and crosswalks make for safer streets—but have you tried getting a traffic mime? In Guadalajara, Mexico, an activist named Jonadab Martinez began appearing in busy intersections to silently direct traffic in full mime makeup. He became a minor local celebrity, El Mimo, creating more visibility about street safety and organizing rallies. After five years of work as a street activist, Martinez, who retired his mime makeup two years ago, has won a seat as one of Mexico’s 500 Federal Deputies and he’s fighting to pass first-of-its-kind national street safety legislation.

Courtesy of Yo Respeto al Peatón

Martinez isn’t the country’s only street-safety hero: There’s also a masked wrestler, Peatónito, or the Little Pedestrian, who fights cars with lucha libre moves. “The cars are the emperors of the streets, a dictatorship of motorists. They always have the right of way,” says the caped traffic-safety crusader. As humorous as these antics may be, they highlight a serious crisis for the country: Roughly 40 people die in traffic each day in Mexico, and road fatalities are the leading cause of death for Mexicans ages 5 to 29. Now, after the death of a prominent bike activist last November, the calls for calmer roads have been reignited. Today on CityLab: The Street Theater Behind Mexico's Landmark Road Safety Law

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Cities Don’t Have Souls. Why Do We Battle For Them?

What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change.

Scott Lucas

How to Build NIMBY-Proof Homeless Shelters? Make Them Mandatory.

To foil community pushback over new facilities for people in homelessness, a San Francisco lawmaker wants all neighborhoods to share the responsibility.

Sarah Holder

Why Did Arkansas Change Its Mind on Municipal Broadband?

Eight years after banning cities and towns from building high-speed internet networks, state lawmakers unanimously reversed course. Will more red states follow?

Nick Keppler

From Gentrification to Decline: How Neighborhoods Really Change

A new report and accompanying map finds extreme gentrification in a few cities, but the dominant trend—particularly in the suburbs—is the concentration of low-income population.

Tanvi Misra

When Tech Makes Food Insecurity Worse

Two UX designers are making art based on a shared frustration: Government tech ideas that don’t incorporate people into the process.

Kriston Capps

Green New Field

I don’t know when the myth of landscape architects as climate saviors began, but I know it’s time to kill it.

In an essay in Places Journal, Billy Fleming, the director of the McHarg Center at the University of Pennsylvania, argues there’s a gap between landscape architecture’s rhetoric and reality as the profession considers its place in shaping the Green New Deal. With mega-projects making the profession much more apolitical than when Frederick Law Olmsted first set the template for planning, designing, or managing built and natural environments, Fleming writes we should remember Olmsted’s “eagerness to enter the political arena and challenge the status quo.”

CityLab context: Read about Olmsted in CityLab University: Who’s Who of Urbanism


What We’re Reading

How Trump’s border crisis is driven by climate change (Washington Post)

The Japanese town that outlawed sprawl (The Guardian)

Is Brooklyn’s gun court getting weapons off the street—or just locking up more young black men? (Slate)

Why is Bill de Blasio’s presidential dream a sad joke? (The New Republic)


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