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Community / Public space

The pedestrian with a 21 mile commute, Hong Kong's housing projects and the vocabulary of renting

Our weekly round-up of city stories we enjoyed elsewhere. 

  • This fascinating profile from the Detroit Free Press tells the story of a man who walks 21 miles during his commute every day. No, that’s not a typo. He walks 21 miles. On foot. He takes a bus at either end, but James Robertson has been undertaking this Herculean trek every working day since his car broke down. 

Every trip is an ordeal of mental and physical toughness for this soft-spoken man with a perfect attendance record at work… Robertson’s daunting walks and bus rides, in all kinds of weather, also reflect the challenges some metro Detroiters face in getting to work in a region of limited bus service, and where car ownership is priced beyond the reach of many.

  • The data types at Ampp3d have analysed 1,000 rental listings to figure out which words mean higher rents. Turns out brick brings in a higher rent than wood, and “immaculate” is a far better sell than “clean”. 

You can see the rest here

  • Around 30 per cent of Hong Kong’s population lives in public rented housing. This piece at CityLab tells the story of the estates, accompanied by striking photographs: 

With 7.2m residents crammed into a relatively small island land mass, the global financial center can’t seem to build enough housing. Average home sale prices have skyrocketed over 300 percent since 2003, according to recent data compiled by the City University of Hong Kong and real estate agency Centaline.

  • The Economist, meanwhile, has been working on a rather more serious dataset. They’ve worked out that by 2030, 9 per cent of the world’s population will live in 41 megacities. This is both cool, and kind of terrifying.

The world’s urbanisation now (click for a larger image). Image: Economist. 

An animated graphic on their site lets you track urbanisation from 1950, when 70 per cent of the world’s population was rural, to 2030, when around 40 per cent will be. It’s basically an extremely fast timelapse of an enormous worldwide migration.  
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