GOOD

Get a Crosswalk for Your Neighborhood In Six-ish Weeks

We've all been there before: standing on a street trying to cross with no traffic light in sight. Cars speed past and you try in vain to dash...


We’ve all been there before: standing on a street trying to cross with no traffic light in sight. Cars speed past and you try in vain to dash across the street, only to return to where you started: a high stakes game of chicken that drivers almost always win. The funny thing is most of us have probably been on the other side, behind the wheel, driving down the street only to see a little blip of a person trying to cross in your rear view mirror. The solution: a crosswalk.

As benign as they may seem, crosswalks can be surprisingly contentious. Politicians and city planners sometimes deny community requests using an antiquated, 1972 survey disputing the safety of crosswalks.

More recent studies—including one out of UNC—show that while crosswalks alone do not necessarily make pedestrians safer, when combined with other traffic abatement, they do make our streets safer. Rather than forcing drivers and pedestrians to play chicken, a smartly designed crosswalk will help them play nicely together. “Installing a crosswalk is one of the easiest and quickest ways to calm traffic in your community,” says Damien Newton of Streetsblog. We teamed up to figure out how this is done, exactly.

WEEK 1: Begin Documenting

You probably already know just from walking around your neighborhood where the most dangerous places are to cross. Pick one, study it, and record it* during one of the busiest times of day. This is also the time to start publicly documenting your progress. Start a blog or Facebook fan page and invite your neighbors. Don’t forget to provide regular updates- this will help build your case.

* Get a few face-to-face interviews to add even more to your story. Talk to people at the proposed site about why it’s needed and how they would benefit from it.

WEEK 2: Talk to Your Neighbors

After you’ve got your documentation and story down it’s time to start building community support. Good old-fashioned community organizing is a must: go door to door to gather names on a petition. Try to get email contacts so your neighbors can receive updates. Be sure to include businesses, Newton says. This will help show you have broad community support.

WEEK 3: Contact Your Local Politicians

Now that you have your neighbors on board it’s time to get your local politicians on board. Write your local council member, county supervisor or whomever can influence decisions at this level (and more importantly, whose constituents are asking for the crosswalk). Be sure to include your signatures and documentation.

WEEK 4: Contact Your Department of Transportation (or Public Works)

Once you’ve got your local politician on board, contact your Department of Transportation or Public Works Department. “Better yet, I would see if the council member would do it,” says Newton.

WEEK 5+: Follow Up

Now that you’ve set everything in motion, the rest of your work is simply following up. Depending on where you live this could mean an answer in a few days or a few months. We’ve settled on a week because, well, shouldn’t that be the norm?

Bonus Tips!

-If there’s been an accident in the area of the proposed crosswalk, gather all related press and clippings and include them in your formal petition. “Don’t be afraid to use them,” says Newton.

-Throw a victory party. Invite everyone involved, and local press and the politicians who helped make it happen. Politicians need all the good press they can get and they’ll be more likely to help you next time ’round.

Damien Newton is the writer/editor of Los Angeles Streetsblog and likes to walk places.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user eflon

This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of GOOD's collaboration with the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or submit your own idea today.

Articles

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

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet