Also: Singaporeans really love their airport, and it’s time to reconsider the Great American Road Trip narrative.

What We’re Following

Eyes on the street: It’s getting easier for people to collect data on all kinds of urban nuisances and crimes. Video doorbells catch package thieves. Crime-tracking apps scrape police dispatches. Nosy neighbors post social-media updates about “shady characters.” All this community-minded narcing is creating an ever-widening surveillance net over urban spaces, and the act of recording and displaying that data has become more fraught.

Take, for example, the digital tools designed to report bad drivers. In San Francisco, a new app called Safe Lanes lets users snap photos of vehicles that are blocking bike lanes or otherwise creating traffic safety hazards, to upload to a GPS-coded map and file it with the city’s non-emergency 311 services. Such bike-lane-defender apps can be a powerful means of rebalancing the power dynamic between cyclists and drivers—but they could also collect license plate and location information that ends up in databases for law enforcement or immigration officials. Should traffic safety enforcement be the responsibility of citizens or cities? Today on CityLab, Sarah Holder reports on The Unsettling Rise of the Urban Narc App.

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

The Changing Geography of America’s Creative Class

Washington, D.C., has the highest share of creative-class workers among large U.S. cities, but Miami’s creative class is growing faster.

Richard Florida

Why Singaporeans Really Love Their Airport

The Moshe Safdie-designed addition to Changi Airport allows even more Singaporeans to do their favorite thing: Hang out at the airport.

Keshia Naurana Badalge

Does the Great American Road Trip Need a Rewrite?

Traveling the open road is an American literary tradition. A history professor says the canon needs an update, especially to include women and people of color.

Andrew Small

Skateboarders Are Saving Your City

They’re influencing the way public spaces are designed and used, while building avenues to address social issues relating to education, addiction, and gender equality.

Chris Lawton

Back on Track

(Anita Snow/AP)

On Tuesday, Phoenix voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that could have derailed the city’s planned light rail expansion. Sixty-two percent of voters said no to Proposition 105, which was backed by a group called Building a Better Phoenix and would have halted all future light rail expansions in the city.

Like a number of efforts to kill urban-rail plans around the U.S., the Phoenix initiative has ties to Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group funded by Charles Koch and the late David H. Koch. But the effort to challenge transit expansions in the fast-growing southwestern metropolis had local roots, too. Earlier this month, CityLab’s Laura Bliss took a look at why Phoenix’s light rail was under attack.

What We’re Reading

The Uber-Waymo dispute returns, this time in criminal court (Recode)

How do you design a school for the era of mass shootings? (Slate)

Utopia, abandoned (New York Times Style Magazine)

A dog park divides the rich and powerful in a D.C. suburb (Washington Post)

Opinion: Bernie Sanders’ climate plan isn’t tough enough on transportation (Curbed)

Tell your friends about the CityLab Daily! Forward this newsletter to someone who loves cities and encourage them to subscribe. Send your own comments, feedback, and tips to

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a full parking lot with a double rainbow over it

    Parking Reform Will Save the City

    Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability. But we can break the vicious cycle.   

  2. Groups of people look at their phones while sitting in Washington Square Park in Manhattan.

    How Socially Integrated Is Your City? Ask Twitter.

    Using geotagged tweets, researchers found four types of social connectedness in big U.S. cities, exemplified by New York, San Francisco, Detroit, and Miami.

  3. People standing in line with empty water jugs.

    Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ Water Crisis, One Year Later

    In spring 2018, news of the water crisis in South Africa ricocheted around the world—then the story disappeared. So what happened?

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. Tents with the Honolulu skyline behind them

    Where Is the Best City to Live, Based on Salaries and Cost of Living?

    Paychecks stretch the furthest in smaller cities for most workers, but techies continue to do best in larger, more expensive cities.