News Roundup: June 12, 2013

Why urbanism matters (Vibrant Bay Area)
Sometimes it's just nice to get a refresher on why advocating for smart, efficient urbanism is so valuable, and Dave Alden does a great job here of summing up the crucial benefits that dense, walkable development patterns afford us.

The Politics of Dumb Infrastructure (Streets.MN)
Nate Hood describes the ill effects of the politicization of infrastructure spending, in which Democrats are happy to support anything that creates jobs and Republicans are more interested in scoring political points against wasteful spending than actually getting anything done. This has led to a situation where those seeking funding for big projects are more interested in overall cost (the lower the better) than actual return on investment, and we end up with expedient but not-very-useful new infrastructure.

EPA Report: $384B Needed to Improve U.S. Water Infrastructure (Governing)
Forget about roads and transit, a new EPA report concludes that almost $400 billion is needed just to get our drinking water infrastructure up to date. The reason behind it, however, is similar to our roads problem: much of the infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life, and we haven't set aside enough money to maintain and replace it.

Housing Discrimination Still Exists, in Deceptively Subtle Forms (Atlantic Cities)
A HUD-sponsored study by the Urban Institute reveals that while overtly discriminatory housing practices may largely be a thing of the past, discrimination persists in more subtle forms. They find that  even with identical financial profiles, Black, Hispanic, and Asian buyers and renters were shown fewer homes on average. While less pernicious than redlining and other discriminatory practices of a previous era, this still amounts to a relative lack of access and options available to minority renters and homebuyers. Worst of all, the biases leading to these outcomes are unclear, and seem nearly impossible to prevent from a regulatory standpoint.

What's better than breakfast for students? Riding a bike to school (Treehugger)
A Spanish study finds that teen girls who rode their bikes or walked to school performed significantly better on a concentration test than their peers who bused or were driven in a car. And while students who ate breakfast did better than those who did not, the differences between active and non-active students was much greater, indicating that morning activity plays a larger role in student concentration than the much-lauded wholesome breakfast.