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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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Nancy Drew and the mystery of the secret oil spill

Sort of like this, but covered in oil.
Penny Meyer
Sort of like this, but covered in oil.

When oil spills across a national monument, and no one is there to see it, does it still leave a mark?

Apparently a really big one, but one that still takes a while to find. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just discovered four miles of oil damage in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument -- thanks to some thoughtful hikers who stumbled onto the scene and photographed the evidence.

Normally, the monument looks like the backdrop of a motivational calendar, but the area the hikers found was black and streaky. There were black bathtub rings around trees and rocks at the level of the spill's highest reach. The overall effect was like that of  a really poorly executed Andy Goldsworthy installation, or the mess left in the wake of the Cat in the Hat, if the Cat in the Hat were a wildcatter.

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Want to attract a new generation to the national parks? Find a few new rangers.

national-park-black-kids-binoculars
National Park Service

Come 2016, the National Park Service will turn 100 years old. In anticipation of the centennial milestone, the agency announced this week a new public engagement campaign to “reintroduce the national parks … to a new generation of Americans.”

This is the federal agency responsible for not just Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, but also the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Governor’s Island in New York City, which holds the Statue of Liberty. Still, it is having a hell of a time attracting young people to the parks, particularly people of color.

Shelton Johnson, an African American ranger at Yosemite National Park in California, talked about the challenge of getting black youth into the great outdoors in Ken Burns’ 2009 PBS documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. “How do I get them here?” Johnson asked. “How do I let them know about the buffalo soldier history, to let them know that we, too, have a place here? How do I make that bridge, and make it shorter and stronger? Every time I go to work and put the uniform on, I think about them."

Part of the problem is that, despite the mosaic of nationalities of people who’ve frequented the parks, there’s not a lot of people like Johnson putting that uniform on. The staffing at the Park Service has remained perpetually and overbearingly white throughout its century-long history.

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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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Desert menu

America’s worst food deserts: Map-lovers edition

Pablo PecoraKhongoryn Els-Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Both a literal and food desert. Food deserts are officially defined as low-income neighborhoods far away (a mile or more) from grocery stores. But distance, as the crow flies, isn't that relevant, since only a few mutants and drone pilots navigate their cities that way. What actually matters is the time it takes to walk to the grocery store. The website Walk Score has the data to account for the hills and railroads and warehouses that separate you from food, and it has used that information to rank U.S. cities by food access. Compare the difference between New …

Read more: Food

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Slick Vid

Here’s a shorebird’s-eye view of the Galveston oil spill

When an oil barge collided with a container ship on Saturday in Galveston, Texas, as many as 168,000 gallons of fuel were spilled into the estuary, threatening wildlife and shutting down the busy port for days.

Yadda yadda. Different spill, same old spill news.

Here’s a slightly different view than you might be used to, from Project Survival Media. Turns out that oil is less beautifully troubling, and more palpably gross, from the shorebird’s-eye view, where it churns in the waves like salad dressing gone wrong.

That lumpy goodness is probably IFO-380, or what's left after all the gas and diesel and kerosene have been taken out of crude oil. “It’s commonly referred to as bottom of the barrel stuff,” as Greg Pollack, a local oil spill prevention commissioner, told the Galveston Daily News. It usually floats near the surface, which is good for cleaning crews, but sometimes sinks when it gets close enough to shore to start picking up sediment. Unlike crude oil -- which is what spilled the last time this area got slicked, by Deepwater Horizon in 2010 -- this heavy fuel oil won’t evaporate, so leftovers may circulate far and wide.

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Why do we work so hard? Cadillac and Ford have very different answers

In an ad that aired during the Super Bowl, Cadillac shared its version of America and electric car drivers by having actor Neal McDonough ask, "Why do we work so hard when other countries take August off?"

For those shouting about the crumbling middle class, stagnant wages, and the death of unions (shh, Kevin Drum!), here's the real answer: Stuff. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.

But if you can take a break from gently cradling and kissing all of your precious stuff instead of the children you never get to see, you'll want to see Ford's wonderful response to it.

As a refresher, here's that one guy from TV selling Cadillac's vision:

Now watch Detroit Dirt founder Pashon Murray give her version of the American dream:

So which America do you believe in? The one where stodgy rich white dudes known for playing psychopaths on TV fill the emotional void with underused swimming pools or the one where awesome urban farmers rebuild Detroit with their bare hands? We don't have the desire or dough to trade in our bus passes and walking shoes for electric cars, but in this case we're going with Ford.

N'est-ce pas, Pashon? Indeed.

h/t Stacy Mitchell

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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.

Read more: Cities, Living

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Samuel L. Jackson thinks going vegan will make him live forever

jackson_burger

If there's anyone who should know about superhero shit like nigh-invulnerability, it's Nick Fury. So please take note: Samuel L. Jackson's stated goal in adopting a vegan diet is "trying to live forever."

OK, we're going to go out on a limb and say that Jackson doesn't actually think going vegan will make him immortal. Dude is real smart, in case you didn't know; you have to be smart to deliver a line like "I have had it with these monkeyfighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane" with conviction.

In fact, he was probably mostly poking fun at the fact that he has apparently sold the rest of his life to Marvel:

When asked by a reporter what his secret is, the 65-year-old actor replied, “It’s a new vegan diet.”

“Is it for a particular role?” the reporter inquired.

“No. Just trying to live forever. Trying to finish out my Marvel deal.”

Read more: Food

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The Double O bike light is less dirty than it sounds, but still cool

double-o-bike-light
Double O

We’re all about coming and going by bicycle (see: vibrating bike seat), so imagine our disappointment that the Double O bike light will not get you even one O. (Even moreso considering that its creator is our favorite sexily named British designer, Paul Cocksedge.)

The Double O DOES, however, snap easily onto your bike with a magnetic holder -- useful if not as fun as multiple orgasms -- as well as sliding handily onto your U-lock for safe storage. You can plug it into your computer’s USB port to recharge, and its marquee-inspired design, available in red or white, is sure to appease the hipsters.