Culture Scout: 2 stories, 1 lament and an art-filled video, all about commuting

Where exactly are commuters going and what are they doing in this pandemic-weary world? This week’s Culture Scout sheds light on their journey.

1. Are bike superhighways in our future?


Four architecture firms share their visions of post-COVID cities in this visual story from the Guardian. Bike superhighways, streets giving way to gardens and digitally smart town centers are among the imaginings.

Excerpt from the Guardian story:

“Winter is coming – and it will test the limits of our urban design. Regardless of whether we “solve” this latest coronavirus, humanity now knows how vulnerable we are to pandemics.”

2. Google to mold offices to hybrid-work model

The future is flexible, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced in a recent Time 100 interview that was reported by Business Insider. Citing impediments like long commutes and affordability, Pichai said it was time for Google to acknowledge that a hybrid model is one that best fits the tech giant’s organizational culture and productivity needs.

Excerpt from the Business Insider story:

“Pichai said Google was ‘reconfiguring’ its office spaces to accommodate what he called ‘on-sites’ — presumably, days when employees, who work mostly from home, gather in the office.”

3. Ex-commuter’s Lament: Ah, alone time

Tanika Davis longs for the good old traffic-clogged days in her Baltimore Sun column, about how pre-COVID office life gave her an unlikely benefit: excessive commute time.

Excerpt from the Baltimore Sun essay:

“For those 45-minute stretches, I was alone in the climate-controlled car, listening to a podcast, or NPR, or singing along loudly with the satellite radio. I spent many car rides chatting it up with my best friend from high school, or my sister. On Tuesday and Friday mornings, I had a standing phone date with my dad. (Hands-free, people! Don’t @ me.)”

4. Bronx artist’s tribute to commuters

Devon Rodriguez felt compelled to capture a moment in history by sketching commuters braving subway travel during the pandemic. He created videos of his work that caught a lot of eyes, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s. Now his calendar is booked, and his work is all over the media, social and otherwise, including ABC’s Channel 7.

Excerpt from the ABC video:

“People now pay top dollar for his work – there’s a wait list to be sketched. On Instagram, his 30,000 followers exploded to more than 350,000 in one month. ‘I always wanted to succeed as an artist and now it’s happening,’ he said.”

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