Living

population: powering down

New York City gets big reaction to new sex symbol

When the Big Apple’s health department tried putting out free condoms, it found the recipients were less than stimulated by the wrapper’s appearance. To sex it up, the city held an online contest to design a new package, 15,000 voters got in on the action, and of course, one hot symbol nailed it. The condom design that came out on top? The international sign for the power button. Six million of these limited-edition rubbers will hit the roads of New York City, turning on sex lives and (hopefully) powering down overpopulation. After all, New Yorkers are all about power: power …

Flipping the Switch?

Should electric bike sales be subsidized?

Photo: Flickr via Imnop88aAs I argued in part 2, electric bikes could be forerunners for electrifying the whole transportation sector. They’re sweeping into urban areas in China by the tens of millions. New technologies are improving e-bike performance. And powerful institutions are aligning to speed battery innovations. Many observers now believe e-bikes will grow rapidly in North America, including in the Pacific Northwest. Colorado-based market analysts Pike Research, for example, predict that U.S. sales will quadruple from 250,000 e-bikes in 2010 to more than 1 million in 2016, as shown in the chart below. (Asia is left off the chart, …

Meet me at the food court

The secret mall gardens of Cleveland

Photo: Gardens Under GlassThe shopping mall is not dead. In Cleveland, in fact, it’s growing green: cucumbers, lettuce, herbs and even flowers.   In the former Galleria at Erieview mall, a project called Gardens Under Glass is taking root, part of a grand plan to transform malls into greenhouses. It’s just one of many Cleveland-based projects, suggesting that this rust belt city might have a few sustainabilty tricks to teach urban centers everywhere. Vicky Poole, who heads up marketing for the Galleria, conceived this project after looking at a photograph of plants growing in a cafe window. Hmmm, she thought, imagining …

Bike Curious in Rhode Island (video)

Bike Curious? You’re not alone. Between 2000 and 2009 there was a 43% increase in bicycle commuting in the US. But in Amsterdam they’re doing it more. More than 85% of Amsterdam residents ride their bikes at least once a week.* Are we missing out? Watch Professor Chris Menton as he travels his morning commute to work in Rhode Island. It looks cold, there’s snow on the ground, but he manages to ride his bike to work at least four times a week. The Department of Transportation has made a real commitment to bicycling as a means of everyday transportation. …

Fashion faux pas

Chanel gives global warming the cold shoulder in Paris fashion show

Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld made a clothes call about his thoughts on global warming during Paris Fashion Week. Unlike those other designers who prefer diamonds, Karl flooded the runway with real ice: a 240 metric ton iceberg sculpture in a room that was chilly in temperature, but not in reception to his global cooling theme. Karl may make fake fur mod, but he’ll only appease the polar bears until they start sweating out of their skin. Personally, we’re not convinced Karl’s wooly wardrobe and climatic condescension are quite yeti ready-to-wear. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive our …

charging up

Three trends that favor electric bikes

Photo: Sightline DailyIn part 1, I described the appeal of and demand for electric bikes, and mentioned that three trends bode well for them in the Pacific Northwest and the rest of North America. Battery-juiced two-wheelers could finally break out of their current status as transportation novelties, helping us rise to challenges as great as climate change, oil addiction, and recession. In this post, I detail these trends. Technology, overseas markets, and political trends all bring good portents for e-bikes. Trend 1. Technical innovation keeps improving electric bikes. The latest Giant, with lithium ion batteries, reportedly has a real-life battery …

Juice Hawgs

The parable of the electric bike

Brynnen Ford carpools kids to school in her Madsen electric bike.Photo: Brynnen FordMmmm. An electric bike. Zipping through the city. Surging up hills without gasping for breath. Riding in business dress and arriving fresh and dry. Healthy, moderate exercise. No traffic jams. Free parking. Huge load-hauling potential. Near-free fueling. Zero emissions. Breeze in your face. Appealing! So why haven’t e-bikes caught on (yet)? Especially in the Pacific Northwest, which is brimming with well-heeled tech enthusiasts? What’s stopping electric bikes from devouring automotive market share the way DVDs killed VHS? At least in good weather? Why aren’t they as commonplace on …

riding tandem

You may be bike-curious if …

earlblumenauer.comInterested in experimenting with the more than 45 million other Americans out there trying it? Exhausted by this nation’s tedious affair with one type of transport? Wondering if you might like spinning your wheels the other way? Then, you may be bike-curious, says Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. This Portland politician is pedaling bi-opportunities left and right: bipartisanship, bipeds, and bicycling. If you’re into it, take the bike-curious pledge, and give the banana seat a ride at least once a week. But if you’re still questioning, find out what kind of bike-curious you might be. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up …

Dirty QWERTY

Ask Umbra on keyboard cleaners, automatic composters, and book club

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I work in an office that is fairly environmentally conscious. However, we have a coworker who religiously sprays keyboard cleaner. How do I confront my coworker without sounding like an eco-turd? I’m just not thrilled about becoming infertile or dying. Suffocating in Seattle A. Dearest Suffocating, Is she spraying it into her mouth? Or worse yet, into your mouth? Is your coworker’s name Allison the Huffer? One of my fellow Gristies told me about an episode of A&E’s Intervention — I haven’t the stomach for that stuff myself — in which Allison …

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