Also: Making a “safe” city safer for women, and can philanthropy save a city?

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What We’re Following

Life’s a gas: The Trump administration announced plans Thursday to freeze an increase in fuel efficiency requirements that would have required automakers to reach a fleet-wide average of 51.4 miles per gallon by 2025.

The reason given, curiously, is about road safety. The White House’s argument goes like this: If cars get fewer miles to the gallon, then people will drive less, thus lowering the likelihood of crash fatalities. Also, higher fuel standards will make new cars more expensive, thus making safety feature upgrades slower to roll out on the road. They also argue that heavier vehicles that get less mileage are safer.

There are a few glaring issues with that thinking. For one thing, more driving doesn’t appear to mean more traffic fatalities (Los Angeles Times), and the administration’s assumptions about future safety features might not follow past trends. “Allow me to be skeptical,” one engineering professor told the Associated Press. “To say that safety is a direct result of somehow freezing the fuel economy mandate for a few years, I think that’s a stretch.”

As CityLab’s Karim Doumar reported last week, the move sets up a legal battle between California and the White House, taking aim at the state’s unique right to regulate auto emissions that dates back to the Clean Air Act’s passage.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

No More 'Wolf Packs': Madrid Moves to Make Women Safer

With a woman helming the city, Madrid is at the front of a global movement to prevent sexual harassment and intimidation.

Juan Pablo Garnham

The Dirty Truth About San Francisco's Sidewalks

As the city’s population grows, those who are homeless have fewer places to go to the bathroom. And more affluent residents are getting fed up.

Benjamin Schneider

Fake Riverbanks Turn a Chicago Canal ‘Wild’

Chicago’s manmade North Branch Canal is polluted and lacks natural habitat. Enter 80 coconut-fiber “islands” that host wildlife and filter the water.

Leslie Nemo

Can Philanthropy Save a City?

The cash-strapped city of Stockton is hoping so, courting millions of dollars from private investors to solve a whole host of social problems.

Alana Semuels

Inside a Commuter Rail Comeback in Hartford

Connecticut’s new Hartford Line isn’t just a train: It’s supposed to be an engine for the capital city’s post-industrial transformation.

Leonard Felson


Oh SNAP

An image from "How the Other Half Eats"
(Ariel Aberg-Riger/CityLab)

In July, the White House surprised many observers by declaring a successful end to the War on Poverty. Now, the future of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is in the hands of Congress as it negotiates a farm bill. On CityLab, visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger takes a closer look at food aid, which adds up to about $1.86 per person, per meal, and what that looks for low-income Americans trying to make ends meet in cities: How the Other Half Eats


What We’re Reading

Four cities are suing President Trump for undermining Obamacare (NBC News)

LeBron James’s new public school features food pantries and free bikes (Quartz)

Los Angeles isn’t known for its streetlights. It should be. (Curbed LA)

Ford’s Chariot vans are mostly empty in New York (Streetsblog NYC)

Are smartphones speeding up gentrification? (Governing)


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