Riding a Bike in the USA is Getting Safer

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Riding a bicycle is getting safer in American cities thanks to improvements in infrastructure. Usually the USA is associated with being the land of the car (and it still is very car-focussed) so it’s really nice to see that a sustainable and friendly form of transportation is getting the attention it needs. Over the last decade more bike lanes and cycle-friendly construction has made the streets safer for everybody while improving local economies – and above all protecting people from cars.

Researchers examined 10 cities that have been “especially successful at improving cycling safety and increasing cycling levels by greatly expanding their cycling infrastructure.” The above table shows recent changes in bike network growth, cycling rates, and crash and injury rates for cyclists in those cities. Minneapolis, Portland and New York City have seen the largest drop in injury and fatality rates among this group.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Stop Trying to be Happy

happiness

Want to be happy? Stop trying!

The key to happiness is accept reality and not to imagine some greater version of happiness. Projecting oneself into a better future and striving for something that cannot be just builds a disconnected between expectations and your everyday experience. This dissonance creates unneeded stress and leaves one in a worse state than if they didn’t vie for a “happier” self. Basically, learn from the stoics.

Our standards for happiness can also cause dissatisfaction when they are higher than what we can realistically achieve. If, for instance, we believe that happiness is all about experiencing pleasure—whether by dining at trendy restaurants or taking beachside vacations—then we’ll feel disheartened whenever we’re having an ordinary day. Individualistic cultures like the US and Germany are more likely to endorse these self-oriented forms of happiness, says Brent Ford, a psychologist at the University of Ontario.

It’s far more likely that we’ll feel content when we embrace happiness as a socially-oriented experience focused on finding meaning and purpose through kind acts. For example, a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that the simple act of participating in small talk with strangers can hold great benefits.

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Standing Rock Sioux Achieve a Victory

Standing Rock #DAPL

This is proof that direct protest action works.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has decided to not grant permission to allow the Dakota Access pipeline to be built as planned. The pipeline was meant to go through burial lands of the Standing Rock Sioux which is offensive in itself, but there’s more to it. The pipeline would have also greatly harmed the local ecosystem and drinking water. In the event of a spill (and pipelines spill all the time) the damage to the natural environment and to people would be epic.

Despite these risks, Energy Transfer Partners and the Army Corps of Engineers will continue to try to build the pipeline elsewhere. Of course this recent development will make it harder to do so and the protestors will continue to fight big oil for the average person’s right to clean water. What’s more, is that the economic argument for pipelines is weak at best.

The Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river, the army announced on Sunday, handing a major victory to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe after a months-long campaign against the pipeline.


The announcement came just one day before the corps’ deadline for thousands of Native American and environmental activists – who call themselves water protectors – to leave the sprawling encampment on the banks of the river. For months, they have protested over their fears that the pipeline would contaminate their water source and destroy sacred sites, and over the weekend hundreds of military veterans arrived at the camps in a show of support for the movement.

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Public Transit Makes Cities Safer

subway transit

Obviously public transit is great for getting people around cities and is a very scalable traffic solution. One spinoff of a good public transit system is that the streets get safer. In Canada he number of collisions increases every year with the vast majority of these collisions the result of driver error. With public transit something else is happening and it’s thanks to the driver training and supportive infrastructure.

Instead of driving yourself, take transit. It might save your life.

Commuter trains, buses, streetcars, and subway trains are all safer forms of transit with much lower rates of injury and death than automobiles; they are heavier and stronger vehicles, they are larger and more visible, they often travel in their own right-of-ways, and (perhaps most importantly) they are operated by highly trained drivers.

All of these factors produce a much stronger safety record: these vehicles are less likely to be in a collision, and in the rare occasion that they are, their passengers are less likely to get hurt.

A September 2016 report from the American Public Transportation Association [PDF] argues that we need to start thinking about the role public transit can play in public safety.

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47 Developing Countries Leapfrogging to Renewables

wind turbine

At the tail end of the Marrakech UN conference on the climate 47 countries formed the Climate Vulnerable Forum to share the one goal: getting to 100% renewable energy as fast as possible. Previously, economists and politicians argued that developing countries will need to use coal or other destructive carbon-based energy before upgrading to renewables. With the cheap price of solar panels and other non-carbon intensive electricity it looks like these countries can skip coal. They are hoping to replicate the infrastructure “leapfrog” that mobile phones created in much of the world with renewable power.

Members of the CVF hope to perform the same kind of ‘leapfrogging’ with regards to energy.

The 47 members of the CVF – which includes nations like Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Haiti – say they’ll “strive to meet 100 percent domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible, while working to end energy poverty and protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances”.

The goal is to have all of these systems in place some time between 2030 and 2050, and the members have committed to presenting a detailed plan to the UN by 2020.

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