A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were heading across the San Rafael bridge to downtown Oakland for a show at the Fox Theatre. As all Bay area drivers know, there’s a historically awful stretch of Interstate 80 along that route — a permanent traffic sh*t show.
I considered taking San Pablo Ave., a major thoroughfare which parallels the freeway. But my wife fired up Waze instead, and we proceeded to follow an intricate set of instructions which took us onto frontage roads, side streets, and counter-intuitive detours. Despite our shared unease (unfamiliar streets through some blighted neighborhoods), we trusted the Waze algorithms — and we weren’t alone. In fact, a continuous stream of automobiles snaked along the very same improbable route — and inside the cars ahead and behind me, I saw glowing blue screens delivering similar instructions to the drivers within.
About a year or so ago I started regularly using the Waze app — which is to say, I started using it on familiar routes: to and from work, going to the ballpark, maneuvering across San Francisco for a meeting. Prior to that I only used Waze as an occasional replacement for Google Maps — when I wasn’t sure how to get from point A to point B.
The ever present debate around whether Silicon Valley will retain its crown as the most important tech hub got fresh fuel this past week, first from a piece by Adam Lashinsky (yes, it will), and then from a Financial Times report (sub. required) seemingly refuting his conclusion (no, New York wins!).
The research behind the FT report claims the most entrepreneurial cities in the US are, in order, New York, Boston, Providence, and then San Francisco. The FT headline — “How New York stole Silicon Valley’s crown” — leads one to believe that somehow the research was comparing Apples to Big Apples. Of course, it was doing nothing of the sort. In truth, the FT’s uncharacteristic click bait was comparing Salesforces to Sandwich Shops.
One of the key NewCo themes is presenting forward looking and innovative companies that are “of the city”. We closely monitor trends, like the one we see here in the Bay Area: many more companies are moving to San Francisco up from Silicon Valley because it is easier to hold on to key talent and personnel. And in Detroit: the story there is all about the re-sizing of that city as it re-emerges into a sustainable scope, which is all centered into the tight geography of downtown Detroit. In both cases, this is happening because key talent and younger people entering the work force value a walkable lifestyle. Case in point, many studies are showing that millennials are driving at a much lower rate than any previous generation.
This story about Los Angeles was a pleasant surprise when it hit my inbox earlier today: The city that once ripped up its rails and public transportation infrastructure is steadily making its way up the ranks of walkable cities! As this story points out, cities that have walkable centers see higher real estate values in addition to providing more aesthetically pleasing areas, places where the community can gather and opportunities for small businesses to flourish.