Talking Headways Podcast: Let Them Drive Cars

South Korea's Cheonggyecheon stream and park used to be a highway. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/25869929@N03/2468502996##Michael Sotnikov/flickr##
South Korea’s Cheonggyecheon stream and park used to be a highway. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/25869929@N03/2468502996##Michael Sotnikov/flickr##

Quick quiz: What city is the world leader in highway teardowns? San Francisco? Portland? Madrid?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s Seoul, South Korea, which has removed 15 urban highways — and is about to remove another. In this week’s Talking Headways episode, Jeff and I talk about what can take the place of a freeway in a city and why it’s worth it.

We also debunk the argument, made in Atlantic Cities and the Washington Post last week, that promoting car access will benefit people with low incomes. The whole concept is based on a study that basically said that in the 90s you needed a car to get around the suburbs. Not exactly a persuasive justification for automobile subsidies in today’s cities.

We wander down Saffron Avenue and Nutmeg Lane to investigate whether it’s true that cities are losing their smell — and whether that’s really such a bad thing. Then we accidentally trip into a conversation about pheromones and good-smelling men.

What’s your favorite smell in your city? Let us know in the comments.

We’re working on getting the podcast available on Stitcher, which apparently is a thing that exists, but for now you can subscribe on iTunes or follow the RSS feed.

  • Anne A

    My favorite Chicago smell comes from the Blommer chocolate factory just northwest of the Loop. On a cold winter day when the wind is NNW, much of the Loop can be permeated with the heavenly scent of chocolate. Of course, it doesn’t have to be winter for that to smell good. Bonus: Blommer is at the intersection of 2 of the city’s most popular bike streets, Milwaukee and Kinzie.

  • The Overhead Wire

    I want a chocolate factory near my house to smell!

  • Bolwerk

    Just a comment on the picture: that stream would probably have a fence around it in the USA.

  • EastBayer

    Arg, that picture makes me so sad. We’d have everyone screaming about ADA access anywhere in the USA.

  • Ian Turner

    The Cheonggyecheon is accessible, it includes ramp and elevator access. Overall I’d say Seoul is far more friendly to the disabled than New York.

  • EastBayer

    You honestly think we’d get away with a bridge and stream like that? Not a chance.

  • davistrain

    Talk about “city smells”–unique to San Francisco is the aroma of wooden cable car brake blocks as the grip cars go downhill. If I’m off visiting The City (also known as “MuniLand”), and someone asks my wife where I am, she’s likely to say, “Oh, he’s up in San Francisco sniffing cable car fumes.”

  • Bolwerk

    No, but I doubt it has much to do with the ADA.

    I mean, we still have slides on playgrounds. Can’t exactly use those with a wheelchair.