“Not only are short-term rentals squeezing the last drops out of the housing supply, but more profoundly, they are threatening the very character that drew in locals—and tourists.”
How the social travel site changed the way we plan our trips.
How did pedestrians become an endangered species in the United States—and why is the word “pedestrian” wrong anyway? First in a four-part series:
“A few years ago, at a highway safety conference in Savannah, Ga., I drifted into a conference room where a sign told me a ‘Pedestrian Safety’ panel was being held.
“The speaker was Michael Ronkin, a French-born, Swiss-raised, Oregon-based transportation planner whose firm, as his website notes, ‘specializes in creating walkable and bikeable streets.’ Ronkin began with a simple observation that has stayed with me since. Taking stock of the event—one of the few focused on walking, which gets scant attention at traffic safety conferences—he wondered about that inescapable word: pedestrian. If we were to find ourselves out hiking on a forest trail and spied someone approaching at a distance, he wanted to know, would we think to ourselves, ‘Here comes a pedestrian’?”
Self-driving car technology is advancing rapidly. But how comfortable can we get with the idea?
“Beyond bureaucracy, there are deeper legal questions. Ryan Calo, director for privacy and robotics at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, which is studying the legal framework for quasi-autonomous vehicles, notes how active the liability landscape already is when it comes to cars’ safety features. ‘People sue over all kinds of stuff. People sue because some feature that was supposed to protect them didn’t. People sue because their car didn’t have a blind-spot warning when other cars at the same price point did.’ Imagine the complexity we’ll have when cars drive themselves. Who will be responsible for their operation—the car companies or the drivers? What happens, for example, when a highway patrol officer pulls over a self-driving car? Who gets the ticket?”
Beneath the well-chronicled narrative of garment industry decline I began to see another set of truths: that the garment industry is still New York City’s largest manufacturing sector by employment; that the production, service, and supply businesses that remain play a vital, if underappreciated, role in the larger fashion industry of New York; and that even with the emergence of instant communications and far-flung supply chains—not to mention the pressures exerted by landlords looking to convert industrial space into more profitable offices—there are still compelling reasons why this industrial network continues to cluster in midtown Manhattan.
“As a couples therapist, I tell people that we take things so personally,” he says as we near the Whitestone Bridge, on the first dedicated bike path we’ve seen in more than two hours. It’s easy, when a car edges too close or cuts him off, to “go to that paranoid place where they’re just trying to fuck with me. We’re so worried that someone else can steal our sense of self that we fight for it at every turn.” But it could have been just that the driver didn’t see him. Under the spell of what’s called “inattentional blindness,” people have been known to miss obvious things simply because they’re not looking for them. Either that or what seems inconsequential in a car—passing by within a foot or two—can be terrifying to someone on a bike.
Researchers have been spying on us on the subway. Here’s what they’ve learned.
Much of the daily material of our lives is now dematerialized and outsourced to a far-flung, unseen network. The stack of letters becomes the e-mail database on the computer, which gives way to Hotmail or Gmail. The clipping sent to a friend becomes the attached PDF file, which becomes a set of shared bookmarks, hosted offsite.