Also: What to know about Uber’s IPO, and Waymo doesn’t mind being boring.

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What We’re Following

Nature’s bike lane: If you’ve ever imagined calling it quits and just biking across the U.S., the Great American Rail-Trail may be just what you’re looking for. Once it’s finished, that is. This week, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy revealed its preferred route for a coast-to-coast trail that traces old railroad routes from Washington, D.C., to Seattle—traversing 12 states and about 3,700 miles. There are about 90 gaps in that trail route, with the most substantial links missing in Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska. All told, it could take another decade or two to complete the trail (so don’t give your two-weeks notice just yet).

(Derek Strout/Rails-to-Trails Conservancy)

The rail-trail nonprofit hopes that outlining this broad vision can make it more possible to connect the smaller existing trails. As local and state governments complete their part of the route, they could see whole towns become an attraction, generating tourism along the way. And even if you don’t have wild-eyed dreams of a cross-country bike trip, the gentle grade of these former railroad corridors could make the trails an amenity for people of all ages and abilities. Read my latest story: The Great American Rail-Trail Is Really Coming

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

When the Future Looked Like Toledo

In 1945, designer Norman Bel Geddes created Toledo Tomorrow, an exhibit that imagined a bold new direction for his Ohio hometown. At least part of it came true.   

Vince Guerrieri

Waymo Doesn’t Mind Being Boring

In the rush to develop autonomous vehicles, Waymo’s style separates it from flashier rivals like Uber and Tesla. And the company likes it that way.

Rob Pegoraro

D.C.’s Apple Carnegie Library Sells Culture Short

The city has converted a cultural gem entrusted to the entire city into an exclusive outlet that serves only the few.

Kriston Capps

A Native American Tribe Gets Rent as Reparations in Seattle

The Duwamish Tribe says the United States never made good on an 1855 treaty covering land that is now Seattle. So, some people are voluntarily paying them rent.

Hallie Golden

Denver Voted to Decriminalize Magic Mushrooms. Will That Really Happen?

The mayor says he’ll respect Initiative 301. The district attorney says it’s open to interpretation. Drug policy experts say they could ignore it altogether.

Lindsay Fendt


Uber, but for stocks

Uber began trading stock as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, starting at $45 per share. The ride-hailing giant raked in at least $8.1 billion, making it the largest initial public offering since Facebook went public in 2012, and the ninth largest IPO of all time (MarketWatch). “Since our first trip in the summer of 2010 to today, Uber has redefined what it means to scale a startup,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a letter to employees before the opening bell (Bloomberg). Even Travis Kalanick, the company’s co-founder who stepped down as CEO in 2017, made an unexpected visit to the trading floor. (Reuters)

The move raises many questions about the future of a company that’s remade how we get around cities:

  • Could the IPO mean an end to the cheap rides that Uber and Lyft pursued to gain market share? (MarketWatch)

  • Is a bet on Uber a bet on self-driving cars? (Wired)

  • Did the worldwide strike ahead of the IPO change anything for Uber drivers? (Quartz)

  • Could the ride-hailing giant see Amazon as its biggest competition going forward? (WaPo)

On CityLab: The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal calls the IPO a stock-market bet on Uber’s vision of the future.


What We’re Reading

Delivery bots could force cities to fix their sidewalks (Slate)

E-bikes could change how we age (Fast Company)

Lower Manhattan reaches a post-9/11 employment milestone (Wall Street Journal)

They got rich off Uber and Lyft. Then they moved to low-tax states (New York Times)


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