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Why cities must narrow car lanes to make room for pedestrians

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Close your eyes and imagine a typical city street. What do you see?

For most of us it’s a variation of a familiar scene: two lanes of automobile traffic most likely flanked by a row of densely parked cars on either side. Confined to the periphery, narrow sidewalks accommodate the vast majority of human activity performed by pedestrians, joggers, tourists, commuters, parents, pet owners, municipal workers, and street vendors.

These are the city streets much of the world has come to know and accept over the past 100 years as urban living has progressively become defined by smog, combustion engines and tens of millions of square meters of car parking. It’s time for that to end.

The post-pandemic 21st century is emerging as the era of the Third Lane—an innovative new way to use public space that disrupts our conventional, bidirectional norms.

Of course, on its surface the concept appears straightforward. By eliminating car parking and narrowing automobile lanes we can create the space necessary to accommodate lightweight, human sized micromobility vehicles such as electric scooters.

Once you better understand its implications, however, the Third Lane takes on a new level of significance that redefines the way we understand cities and urban public space altogether.

The Third Lane and increased mobility

For one, the Third Lane represents the freedom of physical mobility. We’ve long known that bikes and scooters—vehicles built to human scale—travel faster through cities than cars and motorcycles. They’re lighter, nimbler and more streamlined, making them significantly less susceptible to the traffic congestion that’s become so prevalent on city streets. They’re also much easier to park.

Protected micromobility infrastructure increases these advantages by safely separating the large and cumbersome vehicles from the small and agile ones. When cities prioritize the Third Lane, they’re investing in increased freedom of movement at a speed and scale designed for compact urban environments.

The Third Lane and economic opportunity

Prioritizing the Third Lane does more than just improve mobility, however. It also benefits local economies and small businesses in a number of ways, the first of which being perhaps the most evident.

Micromobility riders frequently travel to and from local shops and restaurants. We know this because, at Bird, approximately 50% of our riders surveyed indicated that the purpose of their most recent trip was dining or shopping. Moreover, more than 70% of those riders said that they were more likely to visit the establishment because of Bird. We see this trend consistently in cities around the world: when there are Birds outside, there are customers inside.

In conjunction with micromobility services, the Third Lane also connects riders to employment opportunities. It does this not only by increasing the accessibility of public transit stops, but by providing new mobility options and safe, expedient travel routes in areas traditionally underserved by public transit altogether. Researchers in Chicago, for example, found that e-scooters gave individuals access to 16% more jobs within a 30 minute radius compared to walking or transit alone. In Miami, a similar study found that 40% more jobs were reachable without lengthening current commute times thanks to micromobility.

Perhaps the most interesting way the Third Lane impacts local economies, however, has nothing to do with the lane itself. Instead, it’s connected to the same guiding principle of reclaiming public space. As we’ve seen in cities from San Francisco to Marseille, policy makers are repurposing streets and sidewalks in response to COVID-19, allowing restaurant patrons ample room to properly social distance. The results have been almost universally lauded as joyless parking spaces have been converted into lively centers of commerce and entertainment.

The Third Lane is an invitation to rethink urban streets, taking them away from cars and giving them back to the people and businesses that give life to our cities.

The Third Lane and social equity

Beyond efficiencies and economics, however, the Third Lane’s most prolific benefit is its inherent potential to promote social equity. We’ve already discussed how safe access to jobs and public transit increase when micromobility services and infrastructure are in place—but there’s more to it than that.

Car ownership, particularly in the US, is still closely connected to income. In general, the more money you make, the more likely you are to own a car (or two). Thus city streets dedicated solely to automobile traffic and car parking only serve to further isolate low-income neighborhoods and underserved populations. That can no longer be tolerated.

A recent study published in Transportation Research: Part A found that not only are electric scooters used more for transportation than for recreation, but they’re significantly more appealing to new riders who identify as non-white as well. That’s an encouraging start, and it highlights the potential for e-scooters not only to appeal to a wider swath of the population but to help level the urban mobility playing field for everyone. The only critical component missing is a protected, prioritized Third Lane in which to ride them.

For these reasons, and many more, it’s imperative that cities use the current health crisis as an opportunity to rethink conventional mobility norms and reclaim valuable urban street space. As the era of car dominated cities takes its inevitable place in the rear view mirror, the future of sustainable, equitable urban transportation is moving decisively into the Third Lane.

This article was written by Travis Vander Zanden, Founder & CEO, Birdon The Urban Mobility Daily, the content site of the Urban Mobility Company, a Paris-based company which is moving the business of mobility forward through physical and virtual events and services. Join their community of 10K+ global mobility professionals by signing up for the Urban Mobility Weekly newsletter. Read the original article here and follow them on Linkedin and Twitter


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Published October 14, 2020 — 08:38 UTC

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You can now buy Vizio’s rotating Atmos soundbar

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Vizio’s Elevate soundbar has finally hit shelves. You can buy it today for $999.99. The 48-inch soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The soundbar houses 18 speakers and comes with a wireless eight-inch subwoofer. The cool thing is that some of the speakers rotate — they face upward while you’re playing Dolby Atmos content and point forward for standard audio.

I spoke to Vizio CEO William Wang about the Elevate earlier this year. He said the soundbar is intended to hook non-enthusiast customers on Dolby Atmos by showing them, visually, the difference between the two tiers of audio. He also noted that while the Elevate is asking a steep price, he expects the rotating speakers to appear in lower-cost devices down the road. The Elevate is being positioned as a good companion purchase for Vizio’s first 4K OLED TV, which is also now available.

Currently, you can order the Elevate at Best Buy and Walmart. Vizio says it’s coming to Amazon and Sam’s Club, too, but those don’t appear to have active links yet.

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Don’t Eat Deli Meat if You’re Pregnant or Old, CDC Says

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slices of salami on bread, surrounded by pretty food things

Photo: photocrew1 (Shutterstock)

There’s an outbreak of listeriosis linked to deli meat, the CDC says. The exact source has not been tracked down, but they say if you are pregnant, over 65, or have a weakened immune system, to not eat deli meat or take extra precautions.

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Listeria bacteria can live at refrigerator temperatures, but are killed by heat. That’s why they turn up in deli meats (including Italian style processed meats like salami) and soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. If you’ve ever been told not to eat brie while you were pregnant, this is why—although most soft cheeses in U.S. supermarkets aren’t made with raw milk. In the past few years, Listeria outbreaks have also been linked to lettuce and other produce.

If you don’t fall into those risk groups, listeriosis is not a serious illness. But if you are pregnant when you get it, it could cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of your newborn. It can also be serious for people who are elderly or have a weakened immune system.

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The CDC says it knows of 10 recent cases in which people were hospitalized, and one died. Here’s what they say about the source:

  • Ill people have reported eating Italian-style meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto.
  • People have reported purchasing both prepackaged deli meats and meats sliced at deli counters. The investigation is ongoing to determine if there is a specific type of deli meat or common supplier linked to illness.

If you are in one of the higher risk categories (pregnant, older, or with a weakened immune system) the CDC recommends either avoiding deli meats or making sure they are heated just before serving until they are steaming hot. (That’s an internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit, if you’re able to get a thermometer probe into your salami.)

You should also wash your hands after handling deli meats, clean any surfaces that deli meats or their juices have been in contact with (such as your refrigerator shelves) and make sure you’re not keeping deli meats in the fridge too long. Meat you buy from a deli counter is usually good in the fridge for five days; factory sealed packages are good for two weeks.

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See Who’s Mooching Off Your Netflix Account by Checking Its Recent Access

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A screenshot of the Netflix

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

Depending on how much you pay for your plan, your Netflix account can only be used by so many people at once. Exes, old roommates, or thoughtless siblings—anyone you’ve unwisely trusted with your password—might be mooching off the account you pay good money for, but it’s not too difficult to find out if they are.

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A simple trip to your Netflix account settings will allow you to discover the IP addresses and locations of whoever has been accessing your account. Here’s how to find it:

  1. Head to the Netflix home page in your browser and sign in.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner you’ll see your account symbol. Mouse over it, then click “Account.”
  3. Scroll down and click the “Recent device streaming activity” link.
  4. Then click the “See recent account access” link.

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You’ll see the IP address, location and type of device that has been watching Netflix with your account, as well as when. You’ll probably be able to deduce who has been using your account from there. Once you know who is mooching, you can ask them to get their own account and stop filling your queue with bad movies, or you can just return to the Account page, choose “Sign out of all devices” and then change your password in your account settings and shut them out for good.

Netflix also allows you to download some content to your device(s), but how many are allowed to do so will once again vary based on the details of your monthly plan. From your Account page, you can also select “Manage download devices” to remove any that are unauthorized; this will remove content downloaded to those devices and free you up to offload content on your own phone or tablet.

This post was originally published in 2016 and updated on October 27, 2020 with more complete, up-to-date instructions and screenshots.

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