It’s Wednesday, July 29, and the U.K. is moving social distancing to two wheels.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a staunch conservative whose demeanor and distinctive straw-colored hair have elicited comparisons to President Trump. He’s also a surprisingly strident defender of British bicyclists. On Monday, Johnson announced a plan to spend more than $2.5 billion on thousands of miles of curb-protected bike lanes in the country, following up on a previous promise to usher in a new “golden age for cycling.”

Johnson has long been opposed to what he considers “nanny state” interventions, even complaining about common-sense safety measures like child booster seats. But the British P.M. is also a longtime cyclist, and he presided over many biking reforms when he was mayor of London between 2008 and 2016.

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The massive investment in new cycleways, Johnson argued, would improve public health and serve as “huge, 24-hour gyms, free and open to everyone.” Johnson’s plan also includes a “national e-bike program,” the details of which remain unknown, and 50,000 $65 bicycle repair vouchers available on a first come, first served basis in England.

The government is also looking for a small to medium-sized city that can be converted into a zero-emission transport zone, complete with electric buses and extensive bike lanes. “People want radical change,” Johnson wrote. “We politicians shouldn’t be afraid to give it to them.”

Shannon Osaka

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The Smog

Need-to-know basis

Exposure to particulate pollution decreases life expectancy by an average of two years globally, according to a new report. “Though the threat of coronavirus is grave and deserves every bit of the attention it is getting, embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigor would allow billions of people around the world to lead longer and healthier lives,” said Michael Greenstone, a co-author of the report, in a statement.

2019 was the deadliest year on record for environmental activists, according to a new report. Forty percent of the 212 activists killed were indigenous, despite indigenous people representing only 5 percent of the global population.

More than 800 Superfund sites on American coastlines are at risk of flooding in the next 20 years, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Superfund sites are the designation for America’s most hazardous waste sites; flooding increases the likelihood that toxic waste will contaminate neighboring land and water, putting nearby communities at risk.

Alexandria Herr

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