Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 3:32 PM
Have you ever wondered how the exuberant energy of elementary school–aged children might be harnessed and put to good use? It seems the Dutch company De Café Racer has found a way, with a kid-powered bicycle intended to replace the traditional school bus.
The bike is pedaled by 1 adult (who is essential for steering and safety’s sake) and up to 10 children, reports Kate Malongowski in YES! Magazine. Designed for kids ranging in age from 4 to 12, the bike can reach a speed of 10 miles per hour, is available in a variety of colors—including blue, purple, red, and school-bus yellow—and has adjustable seats to accommodate its growing riders’ extra inches. In addition, the ride comes with a music system, a canvas cover to ward off rain, and an auxiliary electric motor for when the hills get too steep or the pedal pushers run out of steam.
The innovative cycle is beneficial on several levels, such as reducing pollution and combating childhood obesity, and De Café Racer hopes it will catch on outside of the Netherlands. So far, the company has sold about 25 of the bikes in Europe and has received inquiries from buyers in North America and South America as well.
When Co.Exist spoke with the bicycle’s builder, Thomas Tolkamp, about how he thinks the idea will fare internationally, he said that people from around the globe are intrigued: “We have gotten interest from…all over the world and all people are positive.”
Sources: YES! Magazine, Co.Exist
Margret Aldrich is an associate editor at Utne Reader. Follow her on Twitter at @mmaldrich.
Thursday, August 18, 2011 12:08 PM
A woman in the bike lane is the cycling equivalent of the canary in the coal mine. If your city maintains healthy, safe cycling habitat, female riders will come out in full force.
That date who announced himself as polyamorous may have seemed full of it, but bigger love is legit.
As if you didn’t envy expats enough, Scotland plans to build a “city of literature” hub to house the Edinburgh International Book Festival and to stage world-class literary events.
The Atlantic comments on the never ending campaign to ban Slaughterhouse Five. “It’s as if the novel’s theme of history repeating itself manifests in the controversies the Kurt Vonnegut book has caused over the years,” writes the magazine’s Betsy Morais.
Do you remember the guy who threw a pie in Rupert Murdoch’s face? Well, he went to prison . . . and now he’s blogging from there.
Touche! Earth Island Journal’s Jason Mark picks up his pitchfork to valiantly defend organic farming after its recent takedown by Scientific American.
Welcome to a modern palace of poetry.
A generous invitation from Bill McKibben: Come to Washington to get arrested and help stop climate change.
Why does the Leaning Tower of Pisa lean?
Frenchman Karl Marc has inked the world’s first augmented reality tattoo.
If you haven’t seen this slow-motion video of an owl, than you’ve never seen beauty.
“Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?” asks Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi. “A whistleblower claims that over the past two decades, the agency has destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation’s worst financial criminals.”
“In coordinated raids Monday at locations in Delaware, South Dakota, and California,” begins one of The Onion’smost prescient pieces of satire, “federal agents apprehended dozens of executives at Visa Inc., a sham corporation accused of perpetrating the largest credit card scam in U.S. history.”
Across the world, slums are home to a billion people. The rich elite want the shanty towns cleared, but residents are surprisingly determined not to leave, reports New Statesman.
What books influenced your favorite author? The Strand bookstore in New York presents curated lists of the most beloved books of authors and artists like Gary Shteyngart, John Waters, Jennifer Egan, and more.
Feel safer at the club: Scientists have developed a sensor that can be dipped into your cocktail to detect the presence of date rape drugs.
There is no such thing as vegan. Unless you stop using sugar, shampoo, crayons, antifreeze, and fireworks.
Friday, June 17, 2011 2:40 PM
What makes a bike stay upright? Many of us can repeat the conventional grade-school wisdom that the gyroscopic effect is the magical stabilizer of the spinning bike wheel—but scientists are finding that the physics of biking are much more complex than this, reports Science News. They are learning this in part by trying to knock over moving bikes.
A bicycle in motion, even riderless, can coast for long distances without falling. The bike-abusing researchers are learning that neither the gyroscopic effect nor another long-accepted explanation, the “trail effect,” entirely explains the bike’s stability. Writes Science News:
Bicycles, the team suggests, are more complicated than previously thought. While gyro and trail effects can contribute to stability, other factors such as the distribution of mass and the bike’s moment of inertia can play a role as well. Computer simulations that take all of these factors into account could lead to improved designs for folding bikes with small wheels or bikes that carry cargo, [scientist Andy] Ruina says.
So remember, bikers, whether you’re keeping it pure on a fixed-gear or geeking out on a slow-rolling “comfort” bike, many of the same physical forces apply. And as for the oft-maligned weird cousins of the bicycle world, recumbent bike riders? They are no less than the fearless test pilots of the future.
Source: Science News
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Friday, February 04, 2011 3:18 PM
Ethical coffee drinkers unite! This fair trade coffee status report just might make you a better person.
America’s Adopt-a-Highway program has inspired more people than you might think, from the writers of Seinfeld to the KKK.
In a haunting photo essay, Darcy Padilla chronicles the life of a woman who lived for 18 years with AIDS.
The most resolute fiscal conservatives call themselves deficit hawks. Maybe adamant environmentalists should rebrand themselves as “climate hawks.”
If you’ve ever read Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel Oryx & Crake, her description of ChickieNobs—chicken breasts grown on building-sized, genetically modified hens—probably stuck with you. Well, it looks like we’ve caught up with the future, folks. Good reports on the burgeoning market for “beaker bacon, petri pork, and cultured chicken.”
Now that we’ve conquered every last patch of land, let’s colonize the sea!
Bike bloggers don’t get much bigger than BikeSnobNYC, but there’s a reason he’s got a new book and a column in Bicycling magazine: Dude is consistently funnier than hell and spares few targets with his alley-cat humor.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 5:15 PM
You may have seen or heard tales of cargo bikes, the specialized pedal-powered machines that can haul much more than your average bike. Perhaps you’ve spotted one loading up with groceries at the co-op or tooling around town with some kids on the back, or maybe you’ve come across one of the many YouTube videos or Flickr pics of plucky riders hauling large and unwieldy items on their sturdy rides.
Over at the Pacific Northwest alt-news outlet Sightline Daily, Alan Durning recently posted an impressively thorough rundown of these “human powered pickup trucks,” which range from pretty conventional bikes with extended and beefed-up back ends—like the Utne Reader’s new Surly Big Dummy, pictured above—to more farfetched designs with monikers such as longjohns, box bikes, and cargo trikes. Durning’s article covers custom-designed bikes for carrying specialized loads from beer kegs to mail to soup, and includes great shots of folks lugging screen doors, flower seedlings, and, on moving day, what appears to be all their worldly possessions. He writes:
What’s clear from all the inventing and tinkering and experimenting in cargo bikes is that we’ve yet to reach the limits of muscle-powered urban transportation.
I doubt that cargo bikes will ever amount to a substantial share of freight hauling even in cities. The motor is an amazing technology, and hauling large loads is where it makes most sense.
Still, cargo bikes seem destined to fill a small but growing niche in our communities. Unlike electric bikes, they fit perfectly into North America’s existing bike culture (macho, anti-auto, lighthearted). They extend options for car-less and car-lite businesses and families. …
As our neighborhoods grow more compact, mixed, and bike-friendly, and when we put a price on carbon, cargo bikes are likely to grow steadily in numbers and uses. They are likely, in fact, to become commonplace—symbols and reminders of how human power and human ingenuity are chipping away at an unreliable, climate-changing, and ocean-endangering petroleum supply.
Here at Utne Reader, we’re proud to be part of the trend with our new staff Big Dummy. We intend to take it out to events such as concerts, film festivals, and book fairs, bearing Utne Readers and conversation, and put it to work hauling everything from burritos to the giant stacks of books and magazines that we plow through. I’m not sure we’ll change the world, but we’ll save a little gas, get some fresh air, and tone our thighs nicely.
Maybe we can even reach out across partisan lines and give Rush Limbaugh a lift somewhere.
Source: Sightline Daily
Friday, September 18, 2009 9:25 AM
Adding a bell or a splashguard to a bicycle wouldn’t be enough of an improvement for Dave Schneider, writing for the electrical engineering magazine IEEE Spectrum. Schneider decided to modify his bike into a DIY, human-electric hybrid. Using a battery from a wrecked Toyota Prius, some lathe work, and some elbow grease, Schneider’s bike can easily go 20 miles per hour and seamlessly switch back and forth from human to electric power. The total cost was about $750.00. The bike might not do everything that a car can, but it’s cheaper and better for the environment, too.
What was the best improvement you’ve ever made to your bike?
Source: IEEE Spectrum
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