Also: Trees save megacities tons of money, and experimenting to tackle the opioid crisis.
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What We’re Following
Reclaim the city: The pioneering Danish architect, urbanist, and planner Jan Gehl helped transform Copenhagen into one of the world’s most bike-, people-, and climate-friendly cities. In an interview with CityLab, Gehl describes how studying public space turned the city into a laboratory, and how to be systematic about caring for people:
What we have done in Copenhagen is to make the people who use the city visible and to document what is going on: Where people go, how many there are, how long they sit on benches, how many café chairs we have. We do all this every year, just as if we were traffic engineers. Now the politicians have all the information about the life of the city. Then we can ask them to make their choice.
But he warns planners of the allure of smart cities: “Whenever you hear the word ‘smart,’ beware.”
More on CityLab
There’s more to America’s opioid epidemic than death statistics—and even those can be unreliable. The map above shows just how much states may undercount their opioid death rates. The dark shades represent the biggest difference between reported opioid mortality rates in 2014 and corrected rates based on analysis from the University of Virginia.
As those numbers lag, cities and towns are on the front lines of an opioid crisis they don’t fully understand. Some are getting creative with how to gather more data on the problem: One city even has a plan to mine drug-usage data from its sewage. CityLab’s Linda Poon has the story on the experimental, data-driven quest to learn what’s really happening in the opioid crisis.
What We’re Reading
One of Amazon’s HQ2 goals: Learn the lessons of Seattle (New York Times)
Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters are riding every Muni line today (San Francisco Chronicle)
Can cities make us better citizens? (New Yorker)
Velib, Paris’s famed bikeshare program, is in trouble (Wall Street Journal)
Why it has become so easy to hide in the housing market (New York Times)