Talking Headways Podcast: Let Them Drive Cars

South Korea's Cheonggyecheon stream and park used to be a highway. Photo: ## Sotnikov/flickr##
South Korea’s Cheonggyecheon stream and park used to be a highway. Photo: ## 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.


Talking Headways Podcast: I’m Not a Scientist

Do you ever think about the ecology of the city you live in? Not just the parks and the smog. Scientists are starting to examine urban ecosystems more holistically: the trees and the concrete, natural gas lines and soil, water pipes and rivers. The natural and the synthetic feed off each other in surprising ways. […]

Talking Headways Podcast: Change in the Mile High City

David Sachs of Streetsblog Denver joins the podcast this week to discuss the big transportation projects and advocacy initiatives happening in the city, from the I-70 highway expansion boondoggle to the possibility of a new transportation department and the rethinking of the 16th Street transit mall. The first YIMBY conference was recently held in nearby Boulder, and […]

Talking Headways Podcast With Special Guest Jan Gehl

Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl, who led Copenhagen’s turn away from car-domination toward streets and public spaces for people, is on a U.S. tour. I got to sit down with him this week in Washington. Where traffic engineers count cars, Gehl and his colleagues count people. So instead of telling city officials to […]

Talking Headways Podcast: The Future of Street Lights

Clifton Lemon and Steve Lawton of LightPlace Advisors join me this week to talk about how lighting is going to change in cities with the advent of the LED. We learn about what fire and light means to humans and why the street light might become one of the most valuable assets a city has. Clifton […]

To Speed Service, Seattle Looks to Separate Streetcars From Auto Traffic

As streetcars make a comeback in cities across America, they are under scrutiny from transit advocates who complain about service quality. Atlanta’s new streetcar has produced disappointing ridership numbers, with sources reporting it’s not much faster than walking. And Yonah Freemark at the Transport Politic reports that after a fairly strong start, Seattle’s South Lake Union […]