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Can Discounts Convince Londoners to Bike and Walk?

Re:route will provide users with biking and walking routes and reward them for completing those journeys without a car.


Punch a destination into re:route, a new app from eco-rewards company Recyclebank, and it will provide several options. You could walk to the subway, take it to your stop, pick up a bike from the bike share, and ride to your destination. You could get off the subway a stop early and walk. You could ride your own bike, or walk halfway and pick up a bike to get you the rest of the way there.

Whichever path you choose, you're not using your car. As a reward for making that decision you’ll receive a reward at the end of each journey—5 Recyclebank points, which can be combined and exchanged for discounts on a slew of products.


The app is supported in part by Transport for London, the government agency that oversees every aspect of how Londoners get around. The agency has been working for years to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by building out bike infrastructure, setting congestion pricing, and introducing hybrid buses. The agency also aims to increase biking rates 400 percent between 2000 and 2025, and walking by a quarter. And while taking the subway is good too, the city's trains are already congested, and this summer's Olympics may push them to their limits.

With re:route, Recyclebank aims to push people off of their well-worn paths. “When it comes to commuting, you commute by force of habit,” says Ian Yolles, the company’s chief sustainability officer. “It's become such a habit that you get to the end of your journey and you don't remember getting there.” The app, the company hopes, will make people rethink their journeys. It also tells users how much carbon they avoided, time they saved, and calories they burned.

If that’s not incentive enough, the points provide an additional justification for the app. To start, every journey will earn the same number of points, but routes with lower carbon emissions or that avoid rush hour traffic might eventually earn more points, for instance.

This point system is at the heart of Recyclebank’s business: Company founders believe they can convince people to take green actions by attaching rewards to them. In London, Recyclebank recruited rewards partners like department store Marks & Spencer and local bike shops.

The new app will be part of Transport for London’s communications campaign leading up to the Olympics, and the company aims to enroll more than 100,000 users in the coming months. The app isn't specific to London, either. Now that the framework is complete, Recyclebank could easily adapt it to help New Yorkers or Angelenos make their own daily journeys more environmentally responsible.

“It's pretty easy for us to take what we've done and provide city-specific content and data,” Yolles says. “If we wanted to bring it to San Francisco or Chicago or Boston or Washington or New York, we've designed it with that in mind.”

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Akuppa

Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health