Summary of “Are Cities Making Animals Smarter?”

Not a lithe house cat on the prowl, nor a bony feral cat scavenging for scraps.
Ratnayaka has launched the first-ever study of urban fishing cats, identifying and tracking a small, scattered population of the animals in Colombo as they caper over roofs and wiggle through storm drains.
If Colombo is making fishing cats smarter there could be a grim twist: The animals most likely to thrive in cities may also be the first to die.
Two free-standing, fenced-in enclosures were supposed to house rescued fishing cats, but no cats were in sight.
She’s darkly pessimistic about the future of fishing cats in her unrelentingly modernizing city, whether the cats are getting smarter.
Trading notes on the cats’ behavior, the two researchers will look at how Colombo may be changing Ratnayaka’s cats, then use those insights to recommend ways to conserve the city’s wetlands and make its crowded neighborhoods more hospitable to cats and other wildlife.
Jim Sanderson, a small-cat expert and a mentor to Ratnayaka, envisions one day achieving a publicity campaign for Colombo’s fishing cats on the scale of the effort to protect the Iriomote cat in Japan.
“So far, it’s the other way: ‘Well, we need storm drains,’ then the cats take advantage of them. But we can create these idyllic landscapes for both animals and humans if we just do a little bit.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Lower Speed Limits Could Save Your City”

U.S. cities are dropping urban speed limits in an effort to boost safety and lower crash rates.
“Slow the hell down.” That’s the message New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio delivered on Twitter as he announced the revival of the city’s speed camera program.
New York City, which has been struggling to get its Vision Zero safe-streets program back on track after a 2019 surge in cyclist deaths, has also been the most prominent American city to test the idea of a “Neighborhood slow zone”-a relatively infrastructure-light path to safer streets that drops speed limits to 20 mph on interior roads in residential areas.
Seeing cities scramble to accommodate shared electric scooters on conventional streets, Gabe Klein, the author of Start Up City, advocated for the idea of urban “Slow lanes” in Forbes-non-separated but narrower travel lanes with a 15 mph speed limits that would prioritize non-cars.
Nationwide, highway speed limits have grown dramatically since OPEC-era federal speed controls-bowing to cheaper gas, pressure from driver lobbying groups, and Sammy Hagar-were fully lifted in 1995.
“We know that very small changes in speed can have big consequences for pedestrians,” says Jessica Cicchino, the vice president of research at IIHS. “A pedestrian struck at 25 miles per hour has 25 percent chance of being seriously injured-but that climbs to a 50 percent chance at 33 miles per hour.” Importantly, lower speed limits also reduce the number of crashes, as an IIHS study found last year in Boston after it lowered its default speed in 2017.
In his prescient 1973 essay, “The Social Ideology of the Motorcar,” André Gorz makes a similar point about how private cars turned speed into a commodity that, when introduced into the city, created havoc: “When everyone claims the right to drive at the privileged speed of the bourgeoisie,” he wrote, “Everything comes to a halt, and the speed of city traffic plummets.”
Traffic engineers conduct studies measuring the average speed of drivers on a road, then they set speed limits so that 85 percent of those drivers would be traveling under the speed limit.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Uber and Lyft Admit They’re Making Traffic Worse”

The new findings show that Uber and Lyft account for just 1-3 percent of total VMT in the larger metropolitan regions surrounding the six cities.
They have a far heavier traffic impact in core urban areas, as the table below shows: In San Francisco County, Uber and Lyft make up as much as 13.4 percent of all vehicle-miles.
Uber and Lyft posted lower shares of total VMT in L.A., Seattle, and Chicago.
There are big questions that go unaddressed here, such as the growth of Uber and Lyft traffic over time, or their influence on riders shifting away from buses and trains.
As Uber and Lyft have grown from unicorn startups to publicly traded juggernauts with millions of daily riders, they have fought to keep their trip data out of the hands of regulators and researchers trying to measure the effects of ride-hailing on transportation networks.
Now, Fehr and Peers write that their analysis should help both Uber and Lyft “Form appropriate narratives for both internal and external communication.”
Alongside their big mea culpa, Uber and Lyft are also pointing their fingers elsewhere, and justifiably so.
Recently adopted in lower Manhattan, the model has been proven to reduce traffic in other parts of the world, and Uber and Lyft would love see more U.S. cities adopt it, since it could nudge riders to share trips.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Remembering NASA’s Plan to Build a Jetport on Lake Erie”

In 1925, the city became the first in the country to have a municipal airport, and 22 years later, it led the way in building the first downtown airport: Burke Lakefront along the Lake Erie shore.
In 1969, as that giant leap loomed tantalizingly close, a NASA official in Cleveland announced another idea that seemed just as far-reaching, and just as initially implausible: a new airport, capable of accommodating the largest jets being made and supersonic transports.
Not long before the Cleveland proposal, Detroit and Chicago also pursued the idea of a floating airport in Lake Michigan.
The plan found the most ardent supporters in Cleveland.
So his suggestion of a Lake Erie airport carried serious credibility.
Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, which in some respects made it the most receptive to the project; the depth of the lake where the airport was built would be about 50 feet.
The east side of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs are prone to lake effect snow, where weather systems roll over the lake’s central basin, picking up moisture and dumping it in the form of snow on land.
Had NASA’s crazy jetport been built, Krumholz is adamant that Cleveland wouldn’t have suffered the population and jobs loss that it has.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Potosí: the mountain of silver that was the first global city”

Even in the Andes of South America there were other silver cities besides Potosí, including Oruro and Castrovirreyna in Peru.
A new design debuted to signal the new coins, but winning back global trust in Potosí silver took decades.
Almost a century before Don Elias visited Potosí, Viceroy Francisco de Toledo revolutionised world silver production.
A steady flow of Potosí silver – or, rather, the promise of silver futures – rendered the Spanish Habsburgs’ otherwise absurd dreams possible.
Even before the mint fraud of the 1640s, which helped bankrupt the crown, large quantities of Potosí silver slipped away, siphoned off by the empire’s friends and enemies alike: foreign bankers, contraband traders, pirates.
In the 17th century, these ‘country traders’, as Europeans called them, moved and lent more Potosí silver than all Europeans combined.
Just as the Spanish Habsburgs began squaring off against the French and English, the ‘gunpowder’ monarchs of the Middle East and South Asia scooped up satellite kingdoms and principalities, propelled to a degree by Potosí silver.
Potosí was a mountain of silver that changed the world even as the world changed it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone”

How to break free of that prison and reinhabit the space of trust and love is what Olivia Laing explores in The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone – an extraordinary more-than-memoir; a sort of memoir-plus-plus, partway between Helen MacDonald’s H Is for Hawk and the diary of Virginia Woolf; a lyrical account of wading through a period of self-expatriation, both physical and psychological, in which Laing paints an intimate portrait of loneliness as “a populated place: a city in itself.”
Her choice to leave home and wander a foreign city is itself a rich metaphor for the paradoxical nature of loneliness, animated by equal parts restlessness and stupor, capable of turning one into a voluntary vagabond and a catatonic recluse all at once, yet somehow a vitalizing laboratory for self-discovery.
You can see them, but you can’t reach them, and so this commonplace urban phenomenon, available in any city of the world on any night, conveys to even the most social a tremor of loneliness, its uneasy combination of separation and exposure.
You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of people.
Cities can be lonely places, and in admitting this we see that loneliness doesn’t necessarily require physical solitude, but rather an absence or paucity of connection, closeness, kinship: an inability, for one reason or another, to find as much intimacy as is desired.
Current studies suggest that more than a quarter of American adults suffers from loneliness, independent of race, education and ethnicity, while 45 per cent of British adults report feeling lonely either often or sometimes.
“Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness,” philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong wrote in their inquiry into the seven psychological functions of art, and if loneliness is, as Laing puts it, “a longing for integration, for a sense of feeling whole,” what better answer to that longing than art? After all, in the immortal words of James Baldwin, “Only an artist can tell, and only artists have told since we have heard of man, what it is like for anyone who gets to this planet to survive it.”
The Lonely City is a layered and endlessly rewarding book, among the finest I have ever read. Complement it with Rebecca Solnit on how we find ourselves by getting lost, David Whyte on the transfiguration of aloneness, Alfred Kazin on loneliness and the immigrant experience, and Sara Maitland on how to be alone without being lonely.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What happens to old bikes from bike-share companies?”

After city’s Department of Transportation enacted a yearlong pilot program that allowed companies to deploy fleets in the city, a blur of colorful new bikes appeared along bike trails: orange Spins, yellow Ofos, green Limes.
In dozens of other cities across the U.S., dockless bike share has swooped in and out or pivoted to scooters.
BAN’s Puckett says that metals recyclers “Are not typically isolating the electronics” and that companies should adopt explicit policies about how they recycle their bikes to ensure that all components are disposed of properly.
The space it rents was close to the university’s sustainability office, which coordinated Spin bikes on campus, so when Spin decided to leave the university scene, W/NP stepped in to request the bikes.
That’s how Kurt Kaminer, founder of the Bike Share Museum, has gotten the two Ofos to start his collection.
One he got from Bike305, a bike initiative in Florida’s Miami-Dade County that received hundreds of Ofo bikes.
A friend Kaminer met on a bike forum told him that because the bikes were too big for most kids to ride, Bikes for Tykes looked for other outlets for the 500 donated Ofos.
Whether companies donate, scrap, or just abandon their older models, Kaminer wants his Bike Share Museum to capture the evolution of the industry.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The five most creative cities in the world?”

Historically, cities are an essential ingredient for creating great art, from Classical Athens and Renaissance Florence to post-war New York and swinging London.
The international art map is changing, and a new generation of cultural hubs is emerging, well away from global financial centres, property developers and blue-chip art dealers.
While a trust fund feels like a prerequisite for making it as an artist in the likes of London, New York and Paris today, this new generation of art cities exists well beyond the canon of Western art history.
Often overshadowed by its flashier neighbours Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Sharjah is finally getting its chance to shine-thanks to its sheikh with a penchant for art and poetry, and his creative family.
The city is creating a reputation as the place in the UAE for creativity and a cutting-edge cultural agenda, and in recent years its cultural calendar has flourished, with events such as the Sharjah Biennial for contemporary arts, a newly launched graphic-design biennial, and the Islamic Arts Festival.
The Sharjah Art Foundation, led by Hoor Al Qasimi, is a hub for contemporary art in the region.
In addition to the Sharjah Art Foundation’s art spaces, and Sharjah Art Museum, he recommends the Maraya Art Centre and 1971 Design Space for contemporary art and design.
In 2018 the Serbian capital’s contemporary art biennale, October Salon, captured the attention of the international art community by hosting Yoko Ono and exhibiting works by Anselm Kiefer, Takashi Murakami and Olafur Eliasson, alongside those of Serbian artists including Nina Ivanovic, Aleksandra Domanović, Ivan Grubanov, and Maja Djordjevic.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Air Conditioning Created the Modern City”

So they would turn up the air conditioning and light one.
The expansion of tract housing in postwar suburban America relied on affordable domestic air conditioning units.
With air conditioning goes a new kind of architecture, one in which traditional hot-climate devices such as porches, cross-ventilation or pools of water, which create both layers and permeability between inside and out, have given way to sealed boxes.
The most significant architectural effect of air conditioning is in the social spaces it creates.
The architect Rem Koolhaas called this phenomenon “Junkspace”, a “Product of the encounter between escalator and air conditioning, conceived in an incubator of sheetrock always interior, so extensive that you rarely perceive limits.” In the Gulf and China as in much of the US, the mall became the principal gathering place, being a zone where large numbers could comfortably pass their time, leaving streets to be occupied by air conditioning’s mechanical ally, the automobile.
Environmentally speaking, air conditioning is anti-social.
The night-time temperature of Phoenix, Arizona, is believed to be increased by one degree or more by the heat expelled from its air conditioning.
According to one theory, air conditioning helped to elect Ronald Reagan, by attracting conservatively inclined retirees to the southern states that swung in his favour.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A superstar city is born”

What makes a “Superstar city?” Just a bunch of rich people? A concrete jungle where dreams are made of? A place where good jobs grow on trees? Or is “Superstar city” just another name for Los Angeles or New York, which are the only two places where superstars of film, television, and music live? According to a recent article in The New York Times titled, “Why Midsize Cities Struggle to Catch Up to Superstar Cities,” the answer is that superstar cities are defined by being richer and more popular places to go work in than bullshit-ass hovels like Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Now is an exciting time to be a city planner in America.
If your city were just able to get those people to come and start businesses there, then it, too, can be a superstar.
You can’t just throw some affluent millennials into a neighborhood and use the fact that they make a lot of money to say that the city as a whole is improving in the same way you can immediately tell whether the Cleveland Cavaliers are good or not depending on if LeBron James happens to be signed to them.
Why would a city government want to take those odds? Perhaps if, for example, Pete Buttigieg had asked himself that question during his first term as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he would not have razed literally 1,000 buildings and evicted 6.7 percent of his city’s tenants in the name of economic development.
Maybe instead of superstar cities, we should be aiming for “Position player cities,” cities that know what they do best and do the shit out of it, even if they’ll never become hubs for start-ups or biotechnology research firms.
If your city has a bunch old houses laying around, then fix them up, give them to people who need them, and see what happens.
The best type of new resident of a city is someone who falls in love with a place for what it is and wants to be there because they think it’s a special place, not because it ticks all the boxes on some imaginary list of universal prerequisites.

The orginal article.