The streets will never be the same: the future of car-free roads

Giving the streets back to folks for whom they were originally designed: pedestrians.


Major cities are giving cars the boot. By 2050, it's estimated 66 percent of the world's population will be living in cities. This level of urbanization will be a challenge for city planners to design sustainable infrastructures to support such a population boom. (Unless we want our cities to be like Beijing.)

“We can't thrive if the communities where we operate don't thrive," says Executive VP of Corporate Responsibility at JP Morgan Chase Peter Scher.

The Norwegian capital of Oslo plans to ban all cars by 2019, doubling-down on bicycle infrastructure and public transportation. Likewise, the city of Aarhus in Denmark is taking a more passive-aggressive approach to discourage car traffic in its city by prioritizing bicycles at stoplights.

When Paris held a “day without cars" in late September, the mayor's office reported a huge drop in air and noise pollution in the city. The Guardian reports that some parts of the city saw nitrogen dioxide levels drop by up to 40 percent — proof of the huge impact a car-less city could have on the health of its citizens.

A report done by the French Sénat found the health, economic, and financial consequences from air pollution costs France €101.3 billion ($111.4 billion) a year. In America, air pollution has been linked to the illnesses and premature deaths of tens of thousands of Americans each year.

But an analysis by researchers from the Lund University has shown that “investments in cycling infrastructure and bike-friendly policies are economically sustainable and give high returns." The cities of the future may have to be ones without cars if we want them to be places we can live in.

“What cities are, are a sort of intricate layering of the work of many generations, one on top of another, and so, it's subtle transformation and inflection of cities rather than whole scale transformation that's really important," says William J. Mitchell, one of the members of the MIT Smart Cities research group.

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Follow Natalie on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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3 ways to find a meaningful job, or find purpose in the job you already have

Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.

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  • There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
  • "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
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Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
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UPS has been discreetly using self-driving trucks to deliver cargo

TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.


PAUL RATJE / Contributor
Technology & Innovation
  • This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
  • UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
  • TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.
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