Bike Lanes are Good for Everybody

Urban

Bike lanes are amazing! They give users of the roads an area which protects emission-free bicycle riding. They bring local business lots of profits and they improve towns. Bike lanes are almost a panacea to the plight of current urban planning in North America. Indeed, bike lanes are even great for car drivers – the very class of road users that usually throw shade on bicycling.

Myriad factors contribute to livability but I can tell you from experience one of the things that makes a city great, is the ability to get around without driving. Walking streets, promenades, bike paths and great public transportation create a healthier, more active, more affordable and environmentally friendly city for everyone.

In cities such as Adelaide, Copenhagen and Amsterdam a focus on providing safer and more efficient solutions for pedestrians and cyclists has lead to their cities being heralded for happiness and quality of life.

Another reason I’m a fan of bike lanes as a driver is because I’m afraid of hitting one, and bike lanes provide a clear boundary between where my car should be, and where my friends on two wheels should be.

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Tonawanda Provides a Template for Transitioning a Town’s Economy from Coal

work and smile

Globally, coal is on the way out and in America small towns are suffering because coal demand is dropping. The predictable plight of coal-backed small towns in the USA has some politicians trying to bailout the coal industry in order to protect jobs, which is obviously the wrong approach. Instead, what those backwards-looking politicians should do is look at Tonawanda, New York.

Tonawnada had a coal power plant that recently shutdown due to lack of demand. The community was going to be hurt by the closing with lost jobs and tax revenue. Instead of bailing out the power plant they provided a plan to transition to a post-coal economy – and it’s working!

“Instead of spending millions on propping up coal plants,” Schlissel says, “we need to spend money to help communities make an economic transition.”

The Huntley Alliance took its cues from other communities forced to evolve beyond heavy industry. Members traveled as close as Appalachia and as far as Germany, where they were amazed to witness how the German government funded worker retraining programs and recycled old production plants, as renewables supplanted fossil fuels.

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Removing Stigma Around Mental Illness Through Data

happiness

Mental illness is perceived by too many people to be the fault of those who suffer from it. This stigma has led people to not disclose that they are need in help, let alone seek it when needed. New research has revealed that mental illness is incredibly common and, more importantly, that it can be temporary for some people. Of course, it’s not good news that mental illness impacts us but it is good that we can move the conversation around the issue to be more meaningful and helpful to those that suffer from it.

If you ever develop a psychological disorder, many assume you will have it for life. The newest research suggests, for the most common psychological complaints, this is simply not true. “A substantial component of what we describe as disorder is often short-lived, of lesser severity or self-limiting,” says John Horwood, a psychiatric epidemiologist and director of the longitudinal Christchurch Health and Development Study in New Zealand. (Horwood has found that close to 85 percent of the Christchurch study members develop a diagnosable mental illness by midlife).

This may be a useful message to spread. According to Jason Siegel, a professor of social psychology at Claremont Graduate University, people tend to be more sympathetic and helpful when they believe that a friend or co-worker’s health problems are temporary.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Make More Things Out of Recycled Plastics

things
Over at Vice, one author asked a simple question: why don’t we make everything out of relayed plastic? The short answer is that oil is too cheap and companies don’t see benefits of recylcing plastics on their bottom line. Instead of championing for higher consumption taxes or waiting for oil to go up again some people are changing the technology behind recycling plastics. By making the process of recycling cheaper, consistent, and more efficient we can make recycling plastics a default decision for many companies (and leave that oil in the ground).

Garcia said researchers are now looking for new and more efficient ways to make, and break down, plastics. “Since we make plastics chemically, the way we treat them at end of life is also probably going to be chemical,” she said.

Garcia cited a number of examples, such as chemical recycling, where the plastic is exposed to a catalyst at a very high temperature, causing the underlying compounds to break down. It’s how scientists have been able to make fuel out of old water bottles. Garcia said this technique still requires a lot of energy, and is very expensive, but she believes scientists will eventually figure out how to use a similar process at a much lower temperature.

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Build Butterflyways for Beautiful Pollinators

bee

Every pollinator is beautiful and there is an easy way to see more of them while helping the world: butterflyways. The concept is simple: bees and butterflies are under a lot of pressure from human activity so help them on their pollination journey by feeding them. All you have to do is look up what pollinators love in your local area then plant a small garden for them, then tell others. By combining efforts with other gardeners or community groups you can create a pleasant route for our little friends.

In May and June, activities ranged from creating butterfly-themed costumes and a bike-trailer garden that won second prize in a Victoria parade, to adopting city parks in Richmond. In Markham and Toronto, Rangers built on a project started through the foundation’s Homegrown National Park Project, installing a dozen wildflower-filled canoes in parks, schools and daycares. In Toronto’s west end, a pair of Rangers led the Butterflyway Lane art project, painting butterfly-themed murals on two dozen garage doors, walls and fences in a laneway facing Garrison Creek Park.

In late June, Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood and Richmond, B.C. surpassed the target of a dozen Ranger-led plantings, earning kudos from the foundation for creating Canada’s first Butterflyways. The project is spreading, with neighbouring city councillors and groups clamouring to get their own Butterflyways.

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