Opening Your Car Door Like the Dutch Do Can Save Cyclists' Lives

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iStock

Urban cyclists encounter many dangers: Path-clogging pedestrians and reckless drivers are among the most obvious, but bikers also face an under-the-radar road risk called “dooring”—the collision that results when a parked driver opens their car door into an oncoming pedaler’s path.

Most states don’t track dooring accidents, so it’s hard to determine just how often they occur. However, Grid Chicago analyzed Illinois Department of Transportation data from 2011, and found that one in five bike crashes in Chicago were caused by dooring that year.

To prevent dooring accidents, The Telegraph reports that drivers in the Netherlands rely on a simple practice that’s been dubbed the “Dutch Reach": After parking, they reach for their car door’s handle using their right arm instead of their left one, even though the latter is closer to the door. This method forces the drivers to pivot their bodies so they look over their shoulders, allowing them to notice incoming bikers on the street.

Children in the Netherlands learn this habit from their teachers and parents, and it's even included on their driving tests. Now, the practice is starting to catch on in the U.S., thanks in part to vocal evangelists like Michael Charney. Charney, a doctor from Cambridge, Massachusetts, founded a website called dutchreach.org after a local woman named Amanda Phillips was killed in a dooring accident. It provides resources about cycling safety, and suggests ways to promote the Dutch Reach. Meanwhile, advocacy groups like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition are also spreading the word.

Some U.S. cities, like Minneapolis, are starting to build protected paths for bike-loving commuters. But in most places, designated paths for cyclists are situated in a “door zone,” a.k.a. the buffer zone between parked cars and the main road. Until more cities invest in infrastructure changes to keep bikers safe, U.S. drivers can save lives by adjusting their habits.

Master the Dutch Reach by watching the tutorial below, courtesy of Outside magazine.

Michigan Hospital’s Neonatal ICU Is in Need of Volunteer ‘Baby Cuddlers’

barsik/iStock via Getty Images
barsik/iStock via Getty Images

You don’t have to be an empty-nester impatiently waiting for grandkids to feel the urge to cuddle a newborn baby. And, unless you or a loved one happens to be raising a baby at the moment, the opportunity doesn’t arise all that often. But if you live in Michigan and have a little extra time on your hands, now is your chance to get the snuggle action that you (and the babies) have been craving.

MLive reports that Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, Michigan, is looking for volunteers to cuddle, rock, and soothe babies in its Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It’s no surprise that the hospital takes the safety of its patients—especially infants—very seriously: All applicants must pass a background check, interview, and extensive training before gaining access to the NICU.

You’ll also have to make at least a year-long commitment to volunteer for four hours on a weekly or biweekly basis. Though the NICU staff could use volunteers every hour of every day, right now they only need people to sign up for the graveyard shift—between midnight and 8 a.m.

If staying up past your bedtime once a week sounds like a reasonable trade-off for four hours of tender, loving care and that sweet baby smell, you can apply on Covenant HealthCare’s website here.

Wondering why you now feel the urge to move to Saginaw just so you can cuddle Covenant’s newborns? You can blame evolution. Newborns aren’t so supremely snuggle-worthy just because they’re often soft and doughy; they also have large, round eyes and tiny noses, mouths, and chins. This configuration of facial features is called kinderschema, and it activates our instinct to nurture and protect, giving our species the best chance of survival. You can read more about it here.

[h/t MLive]

A Custom Wheelchair Allowed This Brain-Injured Baby Raccoon to Walk Again

фотограф/iStock via Getty Images
фотограф/iStock via Getty Images

Animal prosthetics and wheelchairs allow dogs, cats, and even zoo animals with limited mobility to walk again, but wild animals with disabilities aren't usually as lucky. Vittles, a baby raccoon rescued in Arkansas, is the rare example of an animal that was severely injured in its natural habitat getting a second shot at life.

As Tribune Media Wire reports, Vittles came to wildlife rehab specialist Susan Curtis, who works closely with raccoons for the state of Arkansas, with a traumatic brain injury at just 8 weeks old. The cause of the trauma wasn't clear, but it was obvious that the raccoon wouldn't be able to survive on her own if returned to the wild.

Curtis partnered with the pet mobility gear company Walkin' Pets to get Vittles back on her feet. They built her a tiny custom wheelchair to give her balance and support as she learned to get around on her own. The video below shows Vittles using her legs and navigating spaces with help from the chair and guidance from her caretaker.

Vittles will likely never recover fully, but now that she's able to exercise her leg muscles, her chance at one day moving around independently is greater than it would have been otherwise. She now lives with her caretaker Susan and a 10-year old raccoon with cerebral palsy named Beetlejuice. After she's rehabilitated, the plan is to one day make her part of Arkansas's educational wildlife program.

[h/t Tribune Media Wire]

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