CityLab Daily: The Empty Promise of a Clear Backpack

What We’re Following

Clear-eyed: Since the 1990s, requiring see-through backpacks has become a common method for securing public spaces. But for the students in Parkland, Florida, returning after the deadly 2018 shootings, a new school rule requiring clear book bags was a bridge too far. They used the bags as a forum for protest.

The teens aren’t the first to question whether the clear bags do much more than invade personal privacy. Transparent bags have streamlined efforts to screen for firearms and other dangers in stadiums, music festivals, and even public transit. But critics say the policies serve as another example of security theater that undermines public trust, whether or not they prevent the next tragedy. CityLab’s Sarah Holder has the story: The Empty Promise of a Clear Backpack

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

The Changing Demographics of America’s Suburbs

The changes in the demographic makeup of America’s suburbs are so profound that some urbanists are calling for a new sociology of suburbia.

Richard Florida

The Slave Revolt Reenactment Taking Over New Orleans

On November 8 and 9, costumed black people with guns will be marching across Louisiana reenacting one of the largest slave rebellions in United States history.

Brentin Mock

In Virginia, the Suburbs Decided the Democratic Sweep

Votes in Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi all show how the suburbs are getting more Democratic, while rural areas get Republican.

David Montgomery

Inside the Controversy Over Rebuilding an Iconic Berlin Store

The Karstadt department store in Kreuzberg was once an architectural marvel. Local officials say a new plan to bring it back would worsen gentrification.

Feargus O’Sullivan


Imagine All the People

Bay Area readers, have we got an event for you. With San Francisco’s move to ban cars from Market Street, the time is ripe to talk about reimagining the region’s streets as safer, greener, and more efficient. On Monday, November 18, CityLab’s Laura Bliss and Sarah Holder will host “Imagining More People-First Streets,” a discussion with our co-host SPUR and Oakland transportation leaders.

Come meet your fellow urban enthusiasts and your favorite urban thinkers, and don’t forget to bring your questions. Tickets are free, but advance registration is required. More information available on our Eventbrite page.


What We’re Reading

After the water: Flash floods pose an existential threat to towns across the U.S. (NPR)

Los Angeles asks residents to design their own parks (Next City)

A dream of homeownership, undermined (New Republic)

After a statewide ballot initiative, Seattle is suing to keep its car tabs (Streetsblog)

Why protests around the world often involve public transportation (Vox)


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