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Talking Headways Podcast: The Freeway That Never Was  

This week we’re talking with Brendan Wittstruck about St. Louis’s never built freeway, I-755, which he recently wrote about at Streetsblog member NextSTL.

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Brendan discusses the history of the project and how drawing lines on maps can be seductive to planners, who always have to be careful about trying to “fix” cities. He also talks about the racial politics of freeway construction in St. Louis, and how that legacy still shapes the city today. Finally, we chat about what the I-755 story means for freeway teardown movements today in terms of data collection and why this freeway never saw the light of day.

Join us and hear about the teardown that never had to happen, and the freeway that was never built.

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Talking Headways Podcast: High-Speed Rail Lessons from France and Germany

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In France, the high-speed rail system is designed to provide the fastest possible connections to a single city, Paris, while in Germany the rail network has more connections but slower trips. Graphic: Eric Eidlin

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This week we’re joined by Eric Eidlin, a community planner and sustainability lead at the Federal Transit Administration. Over the last few years Eric has also been studying high-speed rail in Germany and France as a fellow with the German Marshall Fund. He recently published a report, “Making the Most of High-Speed Rail in California: Lessons from France and Germany.”

Eric discusses the differences between the French and German systems and what we can learn from each. He delves into the importance of station location, land uses for station areas, integrating walking and biking with stations, and having a 50-year view of planning these projects. And of course, you won’t want to miss lessons for California’s planned system going forward.

As always, you can find us on iTunes or Stitcher if you want to subscribe directly.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Building Relationships to Build a Better City

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This week’s guest is Janne Flisrand, an independent consultant and writer at Streets.mn. In her work as a “network weaver,” Janne thinks about how to elevate different voices and make sure everyone in a movement has a place to share their expertise and opinions.

In this episode we talk about the importance of relationships in cities — between neighbors and between elected officials and citizens. Janne shares her thoughts about why people feel a bit powerless to engage in city issues, even if it’s on their own street, and the numerous community meetings on so many different issues that make it hard for even the most dedicated people to participate.

You can find the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Charlotte’s Urban Web

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Mary Newsom of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute joins me this week to discuss everything Charlotte, from its beginnings as a crossroads of Native American pathways to its current incarnation as a fast-growing metropolis. The enormous growth of the region, she says, includes a recent surge of suburban subdivisions that were lying in wait during the recession.

Transit is expanding in Charlotte, but the city also just finished a loop highway it began building decades ago, and the street network is not so conducive to urban growth. Tune in and learn all about it, and hear what prompted Mary to get into urban issues.

And don’t forget! You can find the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Sharing Economy, Robots, and You

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On this week’s podcast, Brooks Rainwater, director of the National League of Cities City Solutions and Applied Research Center, tells us about their new report, Shifting Perceptions of Collaborative Consumption, which gauges perceptions of city leaders on the sharing economy. What is the “sharing economy,” actually, and are companies like Uber and Lyft really a part of it? Hear what Brooks has to say.

Brooks also shares his insight into the biggest issues cities have with the sharing economy, what they need to do in order to get it right for their residents, and the worker rights issues that are arising in this space.

We also get a bit tongue-in-cheek about automation and the coming of the singularity. Will robots take over our jobs in this sharing economy? Perhaps that’s far off, but we’re watching closely.

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Talking Headways Podcast: St. Louis Is Awesome! You Just Don’t Realize It

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This week we’re joined by Tara Pham, a San Francisco native who took her talents to St. Louis for college and stuck around. She talks about her company CTY, which creates tools for tracking local data, and how living in St. Louis and the perception of neighborhoods led her and her friends to the idea of counting people, not cars.

“We don’t measure people on foot or on bicycle,” she says. “The assumption is that if we don’t have data for it, they must not be there. And that’s just not true.”

Tara says Mayor Francis Slay is appointing more young people in his cabinet who are thinking about civic innovation and how small fixes can address big problems. Hear what she has to say about how innovation doesn’t always have to do with technology, and find out what the deal is with Sloup, the monthly community meal where new ideas get crowdfunded.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Metro Areas — True Laboratories of Democracy

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This week I’m joined by Bruce Katz, vice president of the Brookings Institution and founder of its Metropolitan Policy Program. We chat about devolution in Great Britain –the idea of moving power away from national bureaucracies and towards metropolitan governance — and the power of metropolitan areas around the world.

There is much that America could learn from Britain’s move towards more metropolitan control. States with several metro areas could follow the UK example by moving more power to local authorities, and cities already may have more power than they realize. We also talk about what mayors want from federal policy and what kind of leaders and coalitions are needed in U.S. regions to make change.

“For folks who care about transit, intercity rail, or infrastructure,” says Bruce, “the next decade is going to be a tough decade for the U.S. in particular, because so much of the funding is going to be shifted to entitlement programs. The U.S. is becoming a health care company with an army.”

Take a listen and — extra bonus — hear what Bruce thinks of the coming year of presidential politics.

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Talking Headways Podcast: A Positive Vibe For Chicago TOD

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On this week’s podcast, Yonah Freemark of the Metropolitan Planning Council (you may know him from The Transport Politic) shares the scoop on transit-oriented development in Chicago.

In a recent post, Yonah writes that in order to break the pattern of slow growth but ever-increasing demand, more development should happen near Chicago’s extensive transit system. We talk about why growth isn’t happening in transit-rich neighborhoods and what needs to happen for development near transit to make a difference.

Which strategy is better, expanding transit or developing near transit? And will state efforts to finance transit expansion with special taxes on real estate pay off?

Find out what Yonah has to say and let us know what you think.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Missing Middle

podcast icon logoThis week on the podcast, Dan Parolek of Opticos Design talks about their new website themissingmiddle.com, which explores housing types between high- or mid-rise buildings and single-family homes that cities don’t make much anymore.

We get into Austin’s development code, Cincinnati’s walkable neighborhoods, and how people are often worried by the phrase “density,” then surprised by density designed well.

Why are developers and bankers scared of “missing middle” housing forms like duplexes? And how come we don’t build rowhouses parcel by parcel anymore?

Join us in the middle and find out.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Welcome to the Fresh Coast!

podcast icon logoThis week I chat with Jeramey Jannene of Streetsblog Network blog Urban Milwaukee.

Jeramey discusses freeway teardowns, freeway expansion, the new bike-share system, the transit funding situation in the city, the city’s streetcar plans, and the city’s really high weighted density.

And we talk about water. Milwaukee is becoming the “Fresh Coast,” an innovative place for studying a really precious resource. Jeramey talks about how the Great Lakes Compact gives Milwaukee leverage over other cities, the innovation of the first greywater street in the United States, and the amazing water-based innovation cluster that has popped up in the city.

So join us in the Freshwater Capital of the World.