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Talking Headways Podcast: Gabe Klein’s Start Up City

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Gabe Klein joins us this week to talk about how to get things done and make big changes to improve city streets and transportation. Gabe has served as the transportation chief of both Chicago and Washington, DC, and prior to his stint in government was an executive with Zipcar (he is also currently on the board of OpenPlans, the organization that publishes Streetsblog USA).

Gabe is out with a new book, Start Up City, about creating change through local government. He shares his insights about the interplay of the public and private sectors, how to push people to overcome a fear of failure, and cutting across the siloes of city departments. Gabe also talks about how he got into transportation, and why Vision Zero is a powerful idea for cities.

All of this and more (including our debate over whether a hot dog is a sandwich) on Talking Headways.

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Live From Dallas: Arts Districts, Carless Bridges, and Electric Light Parades

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This week we’re bringing you our recording from the last weekend in October at the Rail~Volution conference, where we interviewed Catherine Cuellar, director of Entrepreneurs for North Texas and former executive director of the Dallas Arts District, and Dave Unsworth, the director of capital projects at TriMet in Portland, Oregon.

Catherine talks about how Dallas’s strong arts district has evolved and I ask her what it means to be a cultural district. She also looks back to the Deep Ellum’s neighborhood musical heyday, during her time as a music reporter and consumer. I ask her how she got into walking and biking and why living in Los Angeles changed how she views her Dallas home. The “one woman electric light parade,” as she describes herself and her bike, answers questions from the audience on streetcars, bike lanes, and misconceptions of Dallas.

Following Catherine, around the 33:30 mark, is Dave Unsworth, who shares with us his favorite Portland transit project and discusses the new car-free bridge, Tilikum Crossing, a.k.a. The Bridge of the People. We discuss the Lake Oswego Streetcar as well as some of Portland’s innovative green infrastructure.

So join us to talk about Dallas and Portland at Rail~Volution, this week on Talking Headways.

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Talking Headways: Richard Jackson on City Environments and Public Health

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How do the places we inhabit lead to systemic public health problems?

On the podcast this week, I discuss this question with Dr. Richard Jackson of UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. Jackson is the author of three books on the subject of the built environment and public health, and hosted the PBS series Designing Healthy Communities. He has also served as director of the CDC’s National Center on Environmental Health and California’s State Health Officer.

Jackson shares his thoughts about the federal silos of housing, transportation, food policy, and health, as well as the under-appreciated issue of indoor air quality. At the CDC, he says, his message that the built environment is responsible for poor health outcomes was so threatening that some members of Congress wanted him fired.

Join us for a wide-ranging discussion that touches on how the internet is affecting kids, migration in Syria, the future of the LA River, the health benefits of trees, and the frustrations of doctors at the “end of the disease pipeline” treating young kids and adults with type 2 diabetes.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Pattern Cities and the Bellbottoms of Urbanism

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This week we talk to Mike Lydon of The Street Plans Collaborative and co-author of the recent book Tactical Urbanism. Based on his experience with tactical urbanism, Mike says you know an idea has “made it” when it gets co-opted for things that don’t fit the actual definition. We also discuss how to take a small planning idea and make it bigger, and whether urbanism goes through cycles like fashion, with ideas from the past coming back into style.

Tune in and get the scoop on tactical urbanism stories from Boston; Ponderay, Idaho; and Hamilton, Ontario. Hear what Mike has to say about the importance of having people interact with real places during the public planning process, and about pattern cities — places that have spawned a good idea that other places have copied.


Talking Headways Podcast: Measuring Carbon Emissions at Street Level

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Dr. Kevin Gurney is a carbon cycle scientist at Arizona State University. I recently came across an article in Nature about his work measuring carbon emissions from mobile sources at street level, and I wanted to find out more.

On the podcast, I asked Dr. Gurney why cities are important to climate change, and why political boundaries make it difficult to collect data. And we discussed why measuring emissions matters not only for climate change, but also policy arenas like transportation planning and housing.

Dr. Gurney also peers into his crystal ball to assess whether we’ll have the tools to detect something like the Volkswagen emissions scandal in the future.

Join us for a fun discussion about cities, emissions, and data collection at the street, the block, and the city level.

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Talking Headways Podcast: 3 Weeks in the Mountain West Without a Car

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This week I chat with author and city planner Tim Sullivan about his new book, Ways to the West. The book documents his attempt to take a three week road trip without a car, and his encounters with various planners, city officials, and other characters along the way.

Tim talks about the history of the Western grid network and its origins in the expediency of selling land, as opposed to making great and well-functioning places. The region’s river networks and watersheds are ignored by a grid tailored to the car. “We’ve only thought of one network, how cars are getting around,” Tim says. We also go back and forth over Salt Lake’s rail expansion and whether walkability should come before or after large capital projects.

I hope you enjoy this discussion of bikes, walking, wagon trains, and wide streets.  Hopefully in the future, you won’t have to wave a surrender flag when crossing one of Salt Lake’s oversized roads.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Louisville’s Urbanism Derby

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This week’s guest is Branden Klayko, founder of Streetsblog Network member site Broken Sidewalk, which covers transportation and urbanist issues in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is one of the oldest American cities west of the Appalachians, and we discuss the history of the city and its urban heritage. (Is it southern? Is it in the Midwest?)  While many may know Louisville for bourbon, the Kentucky Derby, or college basketball rivalries, Branden gives us another view of the arts and culture that make the city great.

Streets-wise, there’s a lot happening in Louisville, with the coming of bike-share, the city’s focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety, and the legacy of freeway opposition in the city. Branden also reminds us of great local figures in urbanism such as Grady Clay, who was Jane Jacobs contemporary and featured in Death and Life of Great American Cities (check pages 161 and 195).

And if you’re ever in town, make sure to travel the Big Four Bridge, which proved to Louisville residents that you don’t need a car to cross the Ohio River.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Transportation Innovation Revolution

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Shin-pei Tsay of Transit Center joins me this week to delve into her new report, A People’s History of Recent Urban Transportation Innovation, which examines how advocacy and political leadership have combined in several American cities to produce a more multi-modal transportation network.

We discuss the cycle of change, why mayors and local activists (who Transit Center calls “the civic vanguard”) are so important to the process, and what the advocacy scene looks like in the different cities profiled in the report, including Portland, Charlotte, and New York.

So listen in and hear from Shin-pei about the six strategies advocates can follow to encourage more transportation innovation. There may or may not be a Voltron reference in there.


Talking Headways Podcast: Your Brain on Two Legs

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Antonia Malchik’s recent piece in Aeon Magazine, The End of Walking, went viral in urbanist circles, touching on several themes related to our “right to walk.”

In her turn on Talking Headways, Antonia talks about how she became addicted to walking and her experiences walking in Russia, Austria, Upstate New York, and the American West. We also discuss how our brains are intricately connected to our legs and why it’s important for coordination to walk on uneven surfaces at an early age.

Did you know that in states like Montana, drivers on the open range are deemed responsible if they collide with a cow? That’s not how it works when a driver hits someone on a city street. All that and much more on this week’s podcast. Come join us for a walk around the world.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Urban Displacement Project

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This week my guest is Miriam Zuk of UC Berkeley’s Center for Community Innovation, who discusses how the team at the Urban Displacement Project has studied and mapped out gentrification and displacement risk in the Bay Area. We talk about the relationship between transit and rising property values, as well as the widespread portrayal of gentrification in the media as a rapidly occurring short-term process.

Miriam also shares case studies of places like Concord, California, where data indicated the community was declining, but residents and speculators were betting on the future because of proximity to a BART station. We get into the regional job market and the pressure it creates for neighborhoods, and we consider the definition of gentrification, a favorite topic in policy circles.

Join us for a discussion of complex topics you won’t want to miss.