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Bereaved husband sues NYPD for failing to investigate pedestrian death

Last summer, 28-year-old Clara Heyworth died while crossing the street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn -- she was hit by a car piloted by an intoxicated driver who only had a learner's permit. The NYPD never conducted an investigation, and the driver received only a violation for driving without a license. Today, Heyworth’s husband, Jacob Stevens, is suing the New York Police Department and the driver in civil court.

Heyworth’s case received basically no police attention. The NYPD’s Accident Investigation Squad, with its staff of just 19 people (who we assume are extremely overworked), called off the investigation after an hour or so. The squad only investigates crashes where the victim is "likely to die" and in Heyworth's case, they concluded based on one call to the hospital that she didn't fit that category. Stevens said the police who responded to the crash told him from the get-go that Heyworth had little chance of making it, and, in fact, she never regained consciousness.

Heyworth's death alone would be a tragedy, but as Stevens points out, "it fits a pattern." In New York City, drivers in cars routinely kill people and get away with it. Death is just what happens when people drive heavy pieces of metal at blazing speeds down busy roads. No one investigates, and the drivers who kill people get back on the road. The man who killed Heyworth had his car back later that evening.

Read more: Biking, Cities, Family

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Transit workers stop train to save toy bunny

This is Nummy. From "Life With Roozle."

Casey Carey-Brown, a Boston woman who blogs about her daughter "Roozle," has chronicled a harrowing story about childhood trauma narrowly averted by big-hearted transit workers. It concerns Roozle's toy bunny Nummy, pictured above. (Roozle is the human child, Nummy is the bunny. I just don't want you getting confused and thinking this was almost way worse than it almost was.)

Here's the setup:

Today, Nummy had a great day at school and just before the train arrived to pick us up at Stony Brook, Roozle told us that Nummy was a little scared of the train and she needed to tell her it was okay, trains aren’t scary.

We got off the train at the very next stop, at Green Street. Just as we were getting off the train, somehow Nummy jumped out of Roozle’s stroller and out of her grasp and fell between the platform and the train, right onto the tracks. The entire train gasped. Nummy was gone. Roozle immediately started screaming, “My friend! Nummy! She fell on the tracks and now a train is going to run her over! She will be squished by the train! On the tracks! I NEED MY FRIEND!!!”

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First-graders protest Starbucks to save local coffee shop

Back in 2011, a tragedy of epic proportions struck the East Village: Starbucks moved in. And not only did it move in, it kicked a beloved local coffee shop, The Bean, out of its flagship location. Even non-coffee drinking elementary school students were outraged, as Majorie Ingall discovered:

Here we have a piece of paper recovered from the recesses of the backpack of an East Village, NYC elementary school student.

Translation from first-grader-ese:

Starbucks: The Bean Instead.

These budding activists handed out their hand-drawn flyers to their schoolmates, plus some for the Bean staff. According to other local kids, they also came up with some righteous chants, such as “The Bean rules, Starbucks drools.”

The Bean didn't let Starbucks' incursion get it down. In fact, it expanded, opening up a store to replace the flagship and launching plans for additional outposts. But a bond was forged between the coffee shop and kids who valiantly defended it.

Now, this spring, the neighborhood school that these same kids attend (it's actually named The Neighborhood School) found out that it might need to shut its library. Since then, grown-ups have raised funds to save it from imminent demise. But they're still worried about its future.

Enter: The Bean.

Read more: Cities, Family, Urbanism

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My quest for a family car has ended, and the winner is …

Last week, I wrote about my quest to buy a new car. We're sick of our minivan/land yacht and want something smaller and more fuel-efficient that will nonetheless fit our whole family (and our dog) for our daily city commute.

I received all sorts of helpful advice/tips/info in the comments on that post. It made me appreciate anew the great community we have here at Grist.

After so many years of doing this, I've even come to appreciate the more ... enthusiastic feedback. I learned that I should get a new wife because mine complains too much, that I should get rid of my dog, or leave the dog at home, that I should stop being a cosseted hypocrite and start getting my kids to school and doing my errands by bus or bike, and that above all, I should never, ever say anything nice about cars generally or any car specifically and that by doing so I have disgraced myself, disgraced Grist, and most likely disgraced the baby Jesus.

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Awesome ‘bike hugging’ dog guards and rides his owner’s bike

Apparently this adorable bike-guarding dog lives in Nanning, China, where he's known as Li Li the Bike Hugging Dog.

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New research shows Big Tobacco targets black kids

Photo by Fried Dough.

Big Tobacco agreed way back in 1998 to stop marketing [PDF] cigarettes to kids. Turns out cigarette companies are still up to their old tricks -- they’re just being slightly more stealth about it.

Researchers from California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program recently examined the advertising of menthol and Newport-brand cigarettes in the state. They found a much greater prevalence of cigarette advertising in areas near high schools with significant populations of African American students.

“There is a systematic targeting (of disadvantaged communities) by the tobacco industry, which is an extraordinary public health problem,” said Lisa Henriksen of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who presented the research at a legislative briefing in Sacramento last week. “The addition of menthol to cigarettes makes it easier to smoke and more difficult to quit.”

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Car-centric neighborhoods linked to childhood obesity, finger-wagging

Photo by Jym Ferrier.

It should come as no surprise that children who live in neighborhoods that aren't walkable, lack playgrounds, and are full of fast food joints are twice as likely to be obese as kids in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods with access to healthy foods.

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Hot on the trail: Exploring parks threatened by climate change

When writer and outdoorsman Mike Lanza realized climate change was staking a full-scale assault on our most beloved national parks, he didn't just lament about how his kids wouldn't get to experience them the way he did. Instead, he saddled up his entire family -- wife Penny, son Nate, 10, and daughter Alex, 7 -- with packs, kayaks, and climbing gear and embarked on a year-long mission to visit them all. His new book Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to explore America's Most Endangered National Parks chronicles the adventure. He took some time to answer a few questions about our changing parks, life-list trip planning, and educating the next generation about climate change through adventures in the great outdoors.

Read more: Climate Change, Family

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Aging boomers who can’t drive will be trapped in unwalkable cities of their own making

Judging by how pedestrian-unfriendly the average American city has become, all our aging parents apparently enjoy being prisoners in their own homes, reports the AP. Because, oops: There comes a point when you can't legally drive any longer. And if you depend on your car, that means you’ll have to … depend on your children instead. Fuck.