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EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

A Big Stretch of Manhattan Is Going Car-Free for Earth Day

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

On Saturday, April 22, New Yorkers will be forced out of their cars. While the city is already one of America’s most pedestrian-friendly metropolises, Manhattan is giving more urban space over to people to walk and cycle in honor of Earth Day, as Gothamist reports.

A full 30 blocks of Broadway, one of the city’s major thoroughfares, will be closed to cars, trucks, and buses that Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That’s a major upgrade from last year’s Earth Day celebration when only four blocks of the street went car-free. The city’s other boroughs will also close some roads to cars for the day, though none of the other areas affected are as large as the Manhattan closure.

It’s a move in line with New York City’s plans to improve traffic safety and make the city more friendly towards bikes and pedestrians. This isn't the only time of the year pedestrians get to wander through city streets; New York also closes around seven miles of roads to vehicle traffic for three Sundays each August for an event called Summer Streets. But New York City is behind the curve when it comes to car-free days.

Several European cities, like Brussels, already participate in an annual car-free day, and many are moving to make pedestrian takeovers of roads more regular (though many don’t count city buses as cars for these purposes). Madrid’s Gran Vía will be closed to private cars in the next few years, according to plans from the city’s mayor, along with 24 of the city’s other major downtown streets. Oslo plans to eliminate private cars from its city center by 2019.

In September, Paris closed off more than 400 miles of its roads to car traffic, excluding public buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles. As part of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s efforts to reduce pollution from cars, several areas of the city center will soon be permanently closed to cars, while other roads are closed semi-regularly, like the Champs-Élysées, which is pedestrian-only on the first Sunday of every month.

[h/t Gothamist]

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Design
This Is How Kids Envision the Cars of the Future
Charlotte, 12
Charlotte, 12
GoCompare

You don’t need a driver's license to have big ideas about how cars can be improved. Take it from these kids: When they were asked by the car insurance comparison website GoCompare to draw their visions for the cars of the future, they didn’t hold back. The sketches, first spotted by Co.Design, suggest there are cupcake boosters, rainbow headlights, and shark fin rooftops on the horizon for the auto industry.

GoCompare’s gallery features the original doodles alongside their professionally illustrated counterparts. Some designs take cues from science fiction, as is the case with 11-year-old Paula’s double-decker hover car. The magnetic bottom pushes against the magnetic roads beneath it to glide above the ground. Then, there's 12-year-old Charlotte’s Rainbow Convertible 3000, which uses giant wings to float over traffic.

Power sources include chocolate fuel and rocket boosters. On the practical side, some kids worked electric generators and solar panels into their designs, anticipating the real-world need for alternative energy.

Kids drawing of car of the future.
Zach, 11

Kids drawing of car.
Isla, 6

Kids drawing of car.
Kyre, 11

Kids drawing of car.
Paula, 11

Kids drawing of car.
Joel, 11

Kid's drawing of car.
Boban, 11

Kid's drawing of car.
Danelle, 11

Kid's drawing of car.
Charlie, 11

Kid's drawing of car.
Harnitha, 11

Kids' dreams for the future extend far beyond cars. Here are some examples of what kids came up with when asked to draw the house of tomorrow.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of GoCompare.

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Live Smarter
5 Questions to Ask Your Auto Mechanic
iStock
iStock

Own a car long enough and you will eventually find yourself standing in an auto repair shop trying to decipher what the technician is trying to tell you. The only common language? How much it’s going to cost.

Even though you might not understand all the nuts and bolts of a repair job, it’s still important you have enough information to make an informed decision. We asked mechanic Charles Sanville of The Humble Mechanic blog to pass along five simple questions that should elicit some helpful information from a repairman before (and after) you commit to getting the work done.

1. “CAN YOU SHOW ME THE PROBLEM?”

Most mechanics are not out to rip you off. But if they are, they can often be tripped up by a simple request to see which part is in need of attention. “You always want to ask this,” Sanville says. “Tell them you want to see the part that’s failing.” While some issues might be with a car’s electronics and therefore won’t have a physical spot to point to, it’s still a good idea to try. Having a visual aid will also make a tech’s explanation easier to understand.

2. “WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T FIX THIS?”

Be sure to ask the shop what the consequences might be of not taking care of an issue right away. “You should ask what happens in the long term if something doesn’t get fixed,” Sanville says. While a timing belt might need replacement, it’s possible it might be good for another few thousand miles; a brake issue probably can’t wait.

3. “CAN YOU PRIORITIZE THESE REPAIRS?”

Some technicians make repairs seem like urgent matters, but not everything needs to be addressed immediately. “Having five issues isn’t uncommon, but a couple of them might not be a big deal and can wait,” Sanville says. “Have them prioritize what’s wrong with the car.”

4. “CAN I SEE THE DEFECTIVE PART?”

Before the repair has been made, request that the shop save the faulty part so you can take a look. “Sometimes they’ll let you keep it,” Sanville says, depending on disposal requirements. It’s tangible proof they did the work promised.

5. “CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW YOU FIXED IT?”

Don’t worry about understanding much—or any—detail about the repair work. What you really want, Sanville says, is to build a relationship with the technician and not just the service advisor behind the counter. “Ask them to explain in a technical way what the problem was, how they caught it, and how it was fixed. It’ll help build a relationship and then you’ll have your own tech. You can bring it to ‘Bill’ instead of just ‘ABC Auto.’ That’s a guy who will know you and know your car and do what he can to keep you on the road.”

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