24 Random Predictions on Urbanism in 2013

Here’s a list of things that will almost certainly happen in urbanism in the year 2013 (and when I say almost certainly I mean there’s probably a 30% of five of them happening which is pretty good as far as clairvoyance is concerned) Feel free to add more in the comments!
  1. High Speed Rail advocates will continue to run into bureaucratic (in the BosWash corridor) and economic (in California) bulwarks while incremental moves will happen under the radar so that we get our first mile of track in…2030.
  2. New York City will never use plywood barriers to protect their subway stations during flooding again because pictures like this aren’t easily forgotten. (And everyone will remember that MTA employees did a damn good job in preparation and recovery with Sandy.)
  3. Car Sharing programs will start swallowing up market share from ZipCar especially in low-density cities in the western United States, like Austin.
  4. In a surprisingly pragmatic move, young people will start moving to cheaper cities like Denver, Long Beach, Richmond, and Philadelphia to pursue creative interests because their parents can’t afford to bankroll their children’s “Novels about zombies/bacon” anymore.
  5. Williamsburg will be renamed Murray Hill East.
  6. Janette Sadik-Khan will stay on as NYCDOT commissioner even as Mayor-elect Quinn tacks more conservative on her transportation policy to appease outer borough constituents, Albany, and the NY Post. Commissioner Khan will still be the coolest.
  7. Christine Quinn will win the New York City mayoral race and it won’t be close. Rudy Giuliani might say something ignorant while supporting Joe Lhota (whom I like. Edit: I am not endorsing Lhota for mayor [not that anyone cares]; he’s been a very good MTA chief albeit with a small sample size but Christine Quinn is my candidate).
  8. The New York Times will run the following trend pieces: “What’s Walkability Got to Do with It?”; “Green Roofs Quickly Becoming the Place to be Seen for Young Turks of Soho”; “Irony and Caviar: the Influx of Young Brooklynites to the Newly Affordable Upper East Side” and; “The Bronx: The New Queens? (Formerly: Queens: The New Brooklyn?)”
  9. Following Oscar Niemeyer’s death, Brasilia will see an influx of archiphilic tourists who end up going to Rio after a couple days because planned cities are never that great.
  10. Well-heeled families will continue restructuring brownstones into single-family dwellings without realizing they      are reducing an already choked housing stock in the process. Everyone will continue to be jealous that they don’t have a brownstone.
  11. American fans of the Channel 4 (UK) sitcom Peep Show will trek to South London like so many Sex and the Cityers, realize there’s literally nothing to do there, and then go to Bethnal Green like normal hipsters.
  12. Subway fares in New York will be raised to $2.50/ride, pricing out even more riders while reducing service and eliminating some bus routes entirely. Albany will continue to siphon dedicated transit funds to other projects and the MTA will continue to have their hands tied fiscally.
  13. The High Line will remain the best three season (free) date spot in New York for one more year before going all Times Square on everybody; the Low Line will host Tyler Brûlé’s birthday or something.
  14. Los Angeles will finally get a professional football team. Jokes about USC paying their players will reach an all time nadir.
  15. Conservative politicians will still attempt to support policies that benefit suburbs and exurbs until Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio explain to them how geopolitics work in the United States. They will then attempt to court the “urban vote” by having Shyne perform at the CPAC conference. Ron Paul will say something racist.
  16.  Public funds will be used on between three and six sports stadiums and economists will continue to explain that the positive financial impact on surrounding neighborhoods is essentially null (and here’s more!). Team owners will continue to rail against socialism while they use government-backed bonds and collect revenue distributions from TV contracts.
  17. The disintegrative effects of the War on Drugs in low income and minority neighborhoods will finally become part of the mainstream media narrative and the Obama Administration will attempt to scale back some of the Reagan era policies before being blocked by the extremely powerful prison lobby.
  18. “Walkability” and “Livability” will be replaced by more creative words, thank god.
  19. Books on urbanism will finally get their own placard section at Barnes and Noble but the glut of literature will produce unfortunate titles like Greenroofing Behind Your Landlord’s Back and Creating an Urban Core…Right at Your Front Door!
  20. TV will continue to show geographically neutered sitcoms and dramas; you will continue introducing your friends to The Wire (and to a lesser extent Treme) in order to exhibit the way cities should be used in excellent entertainment. David Simon will continue to be on point in everything he does.
  21. Bars will become the new coffee shops; coffee shops will get liquor licenses in order to remain relevant; spiked iced coffee becomes party drink de rigueur.
  22. China’s pace of urbanization will begin to slow albeit only slightly. Transportation systems will learn from past mistakes and make deadlines more flexible and manageable in order to buttress safety as their infrastructure will begin making front-page news more frequently. Hong Kong’s excellent subway system will be considered a best practice on financial front and American transit systems will take notice.
  23. Highways will continue to be built for no reason, though traffic management efforts will ramp up especially with regards to toll collection and financial incentive schemes, e.g. toll roads, express lanes, variable tolling models, etc. It’s mostly just tolling, sorry.
  24. You still won’t be able to afford to live in Manhattan.

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