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Read a prophetic Ray Bradbury story about car culture

Indelibly important science fiction author and giant of my childhood Ray Bradbury, who died last night, would probably never have described himself as writing about environmentalism -- "A lot of lousy novels come from people who want to do good," he said in an interview. But he did write about the relationship between humans and the worlds (Earth and otherwise) that sustain them, a relationship he often seemed to view as "tiny, stupid, heedless little insects scrabbling across the surface of something incomprehensibly old." He had some unconventional ideas about fixing the future, too. Go read "The Toynbee Convector." I will wait here for you.

To really get a feel for Bradbury's vision of the world, the humans in it, and how they can live (or fail to live) together, you'll have to read his 2035809180 books. But I found one relevant piece online, a very short 1951 story that prefigures America's codependent love affair with cars.

Read more: Sprawl, Transportation



Flash mob proves conclusively that cars are the most annoying ever

Flash mob factory Improv Everywhere stages weird, transcendent little moments of cooperation, synchronicity, and pantslessness (they're the ones behind the No-Pants Subway Ride). But their latest effort, the Car Alarm Symphony, doesn't do much besides prove that parking lots, already a blight on the landscape, could always be worse.

Read more: Living, Media, Transportation


The best subway map tattoos

There are people who like public transportation, and then there are people who want to rub public transportation all over their body parts -- or at least get it permanently inked on them. Here are some of our favorite transit-map tattoos from the internet.

Here's a nice-looking Chicago El map, done large enough that you can probably use this dude as a reference in a pinch. "Let's see ... so I can get the red line here, and take it all the way to Hilfiger?"

Read more: Cities, Transportation


Ithaca mayor turns his personal parking space into a mini-park

After Svante Myrick, 25, became the youngest-ever mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., he gave up his car to join the estimated 15 percent of his city's residents who walk to work. As mayor, however, Myrick has a prime downtown parking spot reserved for his exclusive use. So instead of letting it stand empty, last week he began to, as he put it, “turn the Mayor's parking space into a park space.”


Soda-ad fight bubbles up on NYC transit

A version of this article originally appeared on Transportation Nation.

Subway and bus ads are the latest battleground between New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s health department and soda makers. The newly formed New York City Beverage Association is taking a huge mass transit ad buy as part of a $1 million campaign to rebut the city’s claim that soda is unhealthy.

For months, the city has been running public service announcements linking sugary drinks to mountains of fat and waterfalls of sugar, including a graphic video (below) that claims drinking a can of soda a day can add 10 pounds in a year by showing a man pouring fat out of a can of soda and drinking it.

Read more: Food, Transportation


Butt-driven scooters are like Segways, but lazier

The Segway wasn't always just the transportation of choice for out-of-shape mall cops and tourists who can't be bothered to walk from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. When it was introduced, the idea was that it would render cars obsolete, making "walking" so quick and effortless that urban planners would be forced to start building cities at human scale.

Instead, a decade later, we're asking "hey, is there any way we could have a similar technology, but even lazier?" Honda has your answer. Its Uni-Cub is battery-powered and balance-controlled like a Segway, but instead of steering by shifting weight from foot to foot, you sit down and steer by shifting weight from cheek to cheek. Phew! All that standing still was getting really exhausting.

Read more: Transportation


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.


Classical music flash mob turns subway car into symphony orchestra

The Copenhagen Philharmonic really knows how to make a subway commute more beautiful. Musicians took over a train car during what looks like the morning rush hour, and gave riders a surprise performance of "Morning Mood" from the Peer Gynt suite (aka the music that plays any time a cartoon shows a sunrise).

Read more: Transportation


President Bartlet wants you to go for a walk

If you worked in President Bartlet's White House, you would not have to worry about dying an early death from sitting all day, because the West Wing staffers are always walking! And talking! And walk-and-talking! About things like how no one realizes that the president actually can't fix gas prices.

And after you watch this West Wing reunion video from Funny or Die, you too will want to walk. Because President Bartlet gave an inspiring speech that referenced Greece, and due to the President Bartlet magic, it's effective even though he is old now and Charlie has a gross mustache. But if you need a real reason … well, as the staff says, walking helps prevent diabetes, stroke, all sorts of cancer, and depression. (They said it very quickly, so maybe you missed it.)

Read more: Living, Transportation


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.