Street Harassment; the Bathroom Battleground; and Mapping City Smells: Urban Insights From Around the Web

INSIGHTS :  Nov. 5, 2015

Ryan Holeywell | November 6, 2015A new feature highlighting the week’s interesting, important and downright weird news about cities.

"Cat calls are not compliments" written in chalk on pavement

Ryan Holeywell | November 6, 2015 A new feature highlighting the week’s interesting, important and downright weird news about cities.

While the Urban Edge strives to provide readers with daily news and insights about urban policy, we’re also voracious readers of city news ourselves. As part of a new weekly feature, senior editor Ryan Holeywell and the staff of the Kinder Institute highlight the week’s most interesting articles from around the web about urban policy and city life.

Street Harassment: An Issue for Planners?

Planetizen’s Jennifer Evans-Cowley argues that urban planners have a special responsibility to address street harassment of women. Why? “The fear of using public spaces prevents people from equally using the city,” she writes. Transit agencies seem to be taking in the lead in addressing the problem through outreach and advertising campaigns, but she speculates more can be done.

Why the Indoors Could be the Next Frontier For Map Makers

Having seemingly conquered the world of digital cartography, Google now has a new endeavor: mapping the indoors. Its new “cartographer” device is being uses to create maps of indoor places, and a new Apple app is trying to do the same thing. Eventually, none of us will have any excuse for being lost, anywhere, ever.

In area MUD elections, handful of voters decide $1 billion in bonds

An impressive Houston Chronicle investigation revealed that just seven voters this week were charged with deciding the fate of $1.07 billion in bonds for roads and other infrastructure in Montgomery County, north of Houston. The debts would be repaid by taxes on future residents. Under the system, which critics call "rent-a-voter," residents are recruited to move into manufactured homes in the woods that will eventually be cleared for future development supported by the taxes they approve.

How Bathrooms Became a Political Battleground

Governing explores how and why bathrooms have become such a contentious issue, long before Houstonians rejected its equal rights ordinance over fears that child molesters would somehow use the law to assault people in restrooms. This spring, an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte was rejected due to similar concerns about bathroom privacy. State lawmakers in Florida, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin have introduced bills that would limit people to the bathroom that corresponds with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Make Tests Smarter

The Obama administration has recommended limiting the amount of classroom time that can be spent on test prep. Here, a pair of experts from RAND offers their insights on how tests themselves can be improved. One idea: including at least some material that teachers can't easily predict from year-to-year to reduce the temptation to "teach to the test."

Wake Up and Smell Your City

Artist Sisal Tolaas works with architects and environmentalists to create "smellscapes" of different places across the globe. Along the way, she's developed odor profiles of 35 different cities, City Lab reports. “We are asked to smell commercial products, perfume, etc., but we're never asked to smell a city, to smell each other,” says the urban odor collector. “It's not fair toward the body, humanity, or the world.”

Ryan Holeywell


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