Also: How cities and states can stop the incentives madness, and reviving the utopian dreams of Tony Garnier.

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What We’re Following

Route of the problem: Everyone loves a good shortcut. That much is clear a decade after the launch of Waze, the navigation app that helps drivers “outsmart” traffic jams with their phones. Along with other GPS routing apps, these optimized directions have become an indispensable service for millions of people seeking to avoid clogged roads. But giving each driver what they want may not be what’s best for the broader transportation system—or even, ultimately, for individual drivers. Now that apps find better routes with more accuracy, they’re creating a tension between road systems and users that transportation engineers call the “price of anarchy.”

That’s not only transforming the physics of traffic; it’s changing the politics, too. As navigation apps send people seeking faster routes through neighborhoods, it’s producing outrage among residents on formerly sleepy streets. In an excerpt from the new book, The Future of Transportation, CityLab’s Laura Bliss describes the transformation of her own childhood street, and what it tells us about our congestion future. Read: Navigation Apps Changed the Politics of Traffic

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

How Cities and States Can Stop the Incentive Madness

Economist Timothy Bartik explains why the public costs of tax incentives often outweigh the benefits, and describes a model business-incentive package.

Richard Florida

Reviving the Utopian Urban Dreams of Tony Garnier

While little known outside of France, architect and city planner Tony Garnier (1869-1948) is as closely associated with Lyon as Antoni Gaudí is with Barcelona.

Sukhada Tatke

Nairobi Should Rethink Its Colonialist Approach to Urban Design

The road being built in Nairobi is for the rich. Even if it will no longer traverse the city’s major park, it’s not the future-thinking urban design that Kenya needs.

Patrick Gathara

Beirut’s Protest City Is a Rebuke to the Privatization of Public Space

Anti-government protesters set up a cooperative tent city in downtown Beirut, where a generation ago, redevelopment pushed out ordinary people.

Kareem Chehayeb



What We’re Reading

A bridge designer on how engineers balance risk and beauty (NPR)

Fare evasion costs cities millions. But will cracking down on it solve anything? (Vox)

The vacancy crisis is far from over (Marketplace)

Why boomers, not millennials, are fueling the urban apartment surge (Curbed)

The captured city (Real Life)


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