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If we want people to drive less, we have to end sexism

woman-riding-bus-public-transportation-flickr
Mislav Marohnić

At Atlantic Cities, Ann Friedman has a stellar post about how gender inequality affects public transit ridership. Most transit riders are low-income, she writes, and guess who earns less than men? (BINGO.) Research backs her up: A 2013 study by the AASHTO found 114 women ride public transportation for every 100 guys.

"Women overall are more dependent on transit than men, for low-income households in particular," says Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, an urban planning professor at UCLA. "If there is one car, it's most often the man who drives the car."

And yet women are disproportionately the victims of harassment on public transit. Friedman cites a 2007 survey of NYC subway riders that says of those who witnessed sexual assault or harassment, 93 percent said the victim was a woman.

In the simple act of trying to get home from work, ladies have to worry about strangers’ indecent exposure, groping, and even rape -- and on top of that, the bus driver might not care (or, worse, might be the aggressor). Reporting the crimes is tricky; as the NYT points out, some cultures don’t trust the police enough to get them involved.

As just one example of way too many, L.A. resident Julie Asperger told LAist she’s gotten so much sexual harassment on the Metro, she avoids it at all costs:

Read more: Cities, Living

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The Villages People

Oil workers and Jewish grandmas driving American metropolitan growth

metro_growth
Shutterstock

Looking for the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States? Follow the fracking -- or, alternatively, search for the top-rated golf club brunches on Yelp. The most recent U.S. census data, measuring urban growth between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013, showed that oil boomtowns and Southern retirement communities now get to sit at the popular table. The irony here, of course, is that there were never more unlikely candidates for said table than The Villages, Fla., or Fargo, N.D. This list paints a pretty bizarre picture of America's future, but at least it's interesting.

A couple of cities on this list -- Austin, for example -- actually seem like fun places to live for young people, but what’s most striking is that with the exception of The Villages, all of the top spots are filled by oil towns. That’s no coincidence. Last July, the New York Times published a study examining social mobility in metro areas across the United States. The places of greatest economic opportunity, according to the results, were concentrated in oil-rich regions: North Dakota, eastern Montana, western Texas.

Here’s a list of the top 10 fastest-growing metro areas, with the most likely reasons for their growth:

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Cycle Paths

Why is New York’s Citi Bike losing tons of money?

Citi Bike_NYC
CCHO

New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. It's only been 10 months since the Citi Bike program started, and already the "most visible bikesharing program in the world" is in trouble. Not just the can’t-get-out-of-first-gear kind of trouble -- we're talking losing-millions-of-dollars-very-rapidly kind of trouble. On top of all that, their general manager just quit.

With over 6 million trips taken and more than 400,000 memberships and passes sold, everything seemed like it was going so well. What happened?

Trouble started with software glitches in the Citi Bike map and $10 million in flood damage from Hurricane Sandy. Alta Bicycle Share, the Portland-based company that operates Citi Bike program, hasn't been so great at maintaining and repairing vandalized docking stations and damaged bikes.

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NYC wants to turn an old train track into a park with ziplines and ping pong

friends-of-queensway-garden

Queens residents are lobbying for 3.5 miles of a former train line to get new life as a tricked-out public park, complete with ziplines, ping-pong tables, and "a giant slide that would wrap around an old railway tower." (The former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch hasn’t been used since 1962; it’s a mess of litter right now.) Calling themselves Friends of the QueensWay, the group led a community workshop this week to share their vision.

A sunken pedestrian path would be flanked with trees, and one entrance would have space for a dog park or community events. Designers also proposed a shopping area, canopy walk, and a kids’ adventure playground. More mundane perks like bike paths would be present too. Friends of the QueensWay says the park would boost local business, improve the quality of life, and connect different cultures. (Presumably, it would connect them with a zipline.)

Not everybody is so jazzed:

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One California oil town keeps fracking in check — by banning all drilling

oil rigs
Shutterstock

To the city council, the story sounded a little fishy. It was true that Carson City, Calif., probably still had oil of some kind. Los Angeles County had a well-documented history of being an oily place. As early as the 1850s, there were reports of enterprising folks scooping up the occasional seep of oil that rose to the surface and refining it into lamp oil. But these days the easy oil of L.A. County is long gone -- especially in Carson, where the oil drilling began in the 1920s.

So how was Occidental Petroleum, which had approached the city with a set of plans for new drilling infrastructure, planning to get more? A few years ago, the company had begun reopening wells that had seemed closed for good. Now, it had announced its intention to drill 200 new ones. What, exactly, was it planning on doing differently, that other wildcatters with oily gleams in their eyes had somehow missed?

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

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Dream of Californication

Meet the new California, where Paris Hilton isn’t cool but walking, biking, and transit are

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Oleg

California was full of regrettable trends in the early aughts: Paris Hilton, Juicy Couture tracksuits, chockers, screamo, and, apparently, everyone driving 89 percent of the time. But a recent California Household Travel Survey shows some Golden State residents have thankfully traded in their Ugg boots for transit passes.

Californians now walk to their destination twice as much as they used to; the proportion of their trips made by foot is up from 8.4 percent in 2000 to 16.6 percent.

The study, which is based on the behavior of 109,000 people from more than 42,000 households over the course of 2012, also shows that more Californians are biking and using public transit to get around. In total, the amount of carless trips went from 11 percent in 2000 to 23 percent.

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This augmented reality bus shelter is both awesome and terrifying

Just about the last thing any weary, precaffeinated morning commuter needs is to think a meteor is smashing into her. And yet that’s what the geniuses at Pepsi thought would be huh-LARIOUS.

meteor-bus-shelter
Gizmodo

To promote one of their random new drinks, the beverage company installed an augmented reality panel on a bus shelter in London. Commuters saw a video feed of the sidewalk, but with several surprising overlays: UFOs, a tiger, and that giant meteor crashing down within startle-worthy proximity. Here’s the video:

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Gardening plots at train stations let you raise veggies while you commute

No one hangs out at a train station for fun. But Tokyo is apparently changing that. With community garden plots atop train stations, the city is solving two seemingly unrelated problems: Transit hubs can be ugly and industrial-looking, and city-dwellers often don’t have space to garden.

tokyo-train-station-garden
Fast Co.
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Can’t see Beijing’s tourist sites through the haze? Smog insurance is for you!

beijing-smog-china-flickr-animasuri
AnimaSuri

“China’s smog is so bad” is basically the new, less-awful “Your mom is so fat” joke, since you can accurately fill in the punchline with everything from “the government can’t spy on people” to “people are cramming cigarette filters up their noses.” Newest in the canon? China’s smog is so bad you can buy “haze insurance” in case pollution messes up your vacation.

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Koch blocked

Dirty Kochs will dish out millions for polluting this Texas town

port-arthur-texas
Alan Cordova

The U.S. Department of Justice just slapped another polluter around. Yesterday, Justice officials ordered the Koch brothers-owned Flint Hills Resources company to pay $350,000 in Clean Air Act fines for spewing thousands of tons of hazardous air pollutants from one of its chemical plants in Port Arthur, Texas. The company must also spend upwards of $30 million on equipment upgrades to reduce its emissions for particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide -- agents of asthma, lung disease, and death, respectively.

This is no small matter for the Gulf Coast city, about 90 minutes east of Houston. This is the dirtiest of the dirtiest areas in America. It’s where where the Keystone XL pipeline is scheduled to dump tar-sands oil from Canada. The Koch bros’ plant is just one of a gaggle of petrochemical processing facilities, oil refineries, waste incinerators, and gas pipelines strangling Port Arthur, a city also beset by ghastly levels of lung disease and cancer. Then there’s the social asphyxiation of poverty and racism on the predominantly black and Latino city.

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy