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.

The (Likely) Reason Men Don't Live as Long as Women

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iStock/fstop123

Owing to long-held habits like drinking, smoking, and warring, men have traditionally come up short when it comes to life expectancy. In 2016, the National Center for Health Statistics released data indicating women in the U.S. could expect to live an average of 81.1 years. Men, 76.1. That's a full five fewer years of enjoying this mortal coil. To pose a scientific question—what gives?

In an essay penned for Nautilus, Richard G. Bribiescas, a professor of anthropology, ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University, believes that the answer rests outside of the male gender making poor life choices. Biologically, men may look forward to curtailed lifespans because of the hormone testosterone.

Bribiescas argues that, while testosterone provides beneficial boosts in libido, mood, and aggression—all key, in some measure, to both survival and reproduction—there is a biological price paid for the markedly higher levels seen in men than women. Testosterone can affect the body's immunological response, suppressing the immune system and making men more susceptible to illness. The hormone has also been associated with increased cancer risk, including prostate cancer.

Evolution seems to have put up with testosterone because of its impact on reproduction, which is why the male body hasn't come up with a way to dismiss the hormone. But men might not be losing years for much longer. A statistical analysis by Cass Business School in the UK forecasts men and women may both live an average of 87.5 years by 2032. Longevity may improve as a result of less alcohol consumption and smoking, as well as better treatments for heart disease. But that's simply a prediction. It may be that testosterone will continue to be an inherent risk factor for males, one that no lifestyle changes can outpace.

[h/t Nautilus]

Now Ear This: A New App Can Detect a Child's Ear Infection

iStock.com/Techin24
iStock.com/Techin24

Generally speaking, using an internet connection to diagnose a medical condition is rarely recommended. But technology is getting better at outpacing skepticism over handheld devices guiding decisions and suggesting treatment relating to health care. The most recent example is an app that promises to identify one of the key symptoms of ear infections in kids.

The Associated Press reports that researchers at the University of Washington are close to finalizing an app that would allow a parent to assess whether or not their child has an ear infection using their phone, some paper, and some soft noises. A small piece of paper is folded into a funnel shape and inserted into the ear canal to focus the app's sounds (which resemble bird chirps) toward the child’s ear. The app measures sound waves bouncing off the eardrum. If pus or fluid is present, the sound waves will be altered, indicating a possible infection. The parent would then receive a text from the app notifying them of the presence of buildup in the middle ear.

The University of Washington tested the efficacy of the app by evaluating roughly 50 patients scheduled to undergo ear surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The app was able to identify fluid in patients' ears about 85 percent of the time. That’s roughly as well as traditional exams, which involve visual identification as well as specialized acoustic devices.

While the system looks promising, not all cases of fluid in the ear are the result of infections or require medical attention. Parents would need to evaluate other symptoms, such as fever, if they intend to use the app to decide whether or not to seek medical attention. It may prove most beneficial in children with persistent fluid accumulation, a condition that needs to be monitored over the course of months when deciding whether a drain tube needs to be placed. Checking for fluid at home would save both time and money compared to repeated visits to a physician.

The app does not yet have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and there is no timetable for when it might be commercially available. If it passes muster, it would join a number of FDA-approved “smart” medical diagnostic tools, including the AliveKor CardiaBand for the Apple Watch, which conducts EKG monitoring for heart irregularities.

[h/t WGRZ]

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