Also: Google Maps gets an update for natural disasters, and celebrating Baltimore’s metro.
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What We’re Following
Shrink wrap: Over the last 30 years, about 40 percent of all U.S. cities have seen their populations dwindle. The conventional narrative about “shrinking cities” evokes images of economically ravaged places where populations decline and job losses hit hard and fast—but population decline and economic decline don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.
A new study finds that some cities with declining populations are actually prosperous: More than a quarter of them perform well on measures like income and talent. The findings suggest that these cities have made due with fewer people by attracting college graduates or by “planning for less,” but inequality remains an issue. CityLab’s Richard Florida takes a look at the latest data: How Some Shrinking Cities Are Still Prospering
More on CityLab
Many kids first learn to ride a bike in a parking lot where instructors use cones and tennis balls to represent obstacles on the street. That doesn’t do much to show kids what they’ll encounter on real roads, though. That’s where “safety towns” and “traffic gardens” show their value, using mock storefronts, stoplights, and potholes to let students put their safety education into practice.
The idea dates back to the 1930s, but more of these mini-streetscapes have popped up in the United States in recent years. Now researchers are studying how effective these realistic environments are at teaching kids to bike safely. “Traffic gardens are such a great tool because it’s not about lecturing, it’s about experiencing,” says a civil engineer who designs these tiny towns. On CityLab: How Tiny “Safety Towns” Give Kids Street Smarts
What We’re Reading
Americans need more neighbors (New York Times)
The nonwhite working class of Youngstown, Ohio (Slate)
Supreme Court spurns Virginia Republicans on racial gerrymandering case (Reuters)
Building a safer mid-block crossing (Streetsblog)
Planet Money: Are cities overrated? (NPR)