Archive for the ‘neat stuff’ Category

German suburb finds car-free life quite carefree

May 13, 2009

Have you ever heard of Vauban, a small suburb in Germany? I hadn’t until recently, but after reading an article in yesterday’s New York Times“In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars”—I’m ready to pack my bags and hop on the next plane there.

Vauban, completed in 2006, sits on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden, and Vauban’s streets are completely car-free, except for the main thoroughfare and a few streets on the outskirts of the suburb.

You may be asking yourself, How is this working out for the 5,500 residents of Vauban? Quite well, it seems. From the article:

The town is long and relatively narrow, so that the tram into Freiburg is an easy walk from every home. Stores, restaurants, banks and schools are more interspersed among homes than they are in a typical suburb. Most residents…have carts that they haul behind bicycles for shopping trips or children’s play dates. For trips to stores like IKEA or the ski slopes, families buy cars together or use communal cars rented out by Vauban’s car-sharing club.

Moreover, parents in Vauban rave about the safety that goes along with having no cars on the streets. Children can run free without their parents fearing for their safety as they would if their kids were playing on a busy street corner. Check out this interesting slideshow of Vauban.

Vauban is part of a growing suburban trend many are referring to as “smart planning.” In the U.S., the EPA is beginning to promote “car reduced” communities and experts expect public transport serving suburbs to play a much larger role in a new six-year federal transportation bill to be approved this year. Currently, most zoning laws in the U.S. still require two parking spaces per residential unit. Hopefully, Vauban’s success will lead to many more car-reduced cities and suburbs.

Adler Planetarium joins I-GO Car Sharing’s Chi-Town Rewards Program!

May 12, 2009

Adler Planetarium is the most recent organization to join our great member benefit program Chi-Town Rewards! As an I-GO member, you can simply flash your I-GO smartcard and receive two-for-one admission to the Planetarium. Not a bad deal, eh?

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
OFFER: 2-for-1 general admission

2 New Chi-Town Rewards Businesses

April 20, 2009

I’m happy to announce that we’ve added 2 new, local businesses to our Chi-Town Rewards program this month! As I-GO members, you can now receive a discount when you visit the Adler Planetarium in Chicago’s Museum Campus or the Green Grocer Chicago in West Town- pretty cool, huh?

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive
OFFER: 2 for 1 general admission

Green Grocer Chicago
1402 W. Grand Ave
OFFER: 10% off total order

USB lunchwarmer warms lunch & my heart

January 24, 2009

Treehugger has a post about this excellent USB lunchwarmer from Japan, which could not only help you save money and cut down on waste, but could also be a warm hat for those in hyper-air conditioned offices.

The manufacturer sums it up (through a Google translation):

Fun fun time for your lunch, dinner is cold but we do not. Lunch not only beloved wife, can heat up your lunch bought at convenience stores.

Indeed. I want so bad. Wonder if it works on pop tarts…

Take a bike lane with you

January 16, 2009

This is pretty sweet – this gadget lets you take a bike lane with you.

The lasers help drivers see you and give them a clear boundary to avoid you, making biking safer at night.

Do you have any tips for safe biking, running, or walking at night?

(via GOOD)

Forget your Hummer – I need the Aeolus Airship

January 16, 2009

Oh man. Want.

Some images like this leaked of the Aeolus Airship – a sleek, people-powered blimp that can fly up to two weeks. It was designed by someone named Christopher Ottersbach. I can’t find much of anything about him or where to find out more about this vehicle, so it might be some hoaxy thing or a movie promo. I don’t care if it is imaginary – I want to pedal through the sky:

So when is Chicago finally gonna get a blimp-sharing service?

(via Treehugger)

Protect Your Skin When the Temperature Drops

January 14, 2009

Aside from the occasional I-GO trip, I rely on the CTA and my own two feet to get around. I spend a lot of time outdoors, even in these freezing temperatures. But sub-zero conditions can leave my face flaky, cracked and red. Here are some tips to keep your skin healthy while braving the elements.

1. Prevent flaky skin.First, avoid products that contain alcohol, which is drying. Instead, use a gentle cleanser and switch to a richer moisturizer. Neutrogena products are my personal favorite.

2. Stop a red nose. Unless you’re guiding Santa’s sleigh, no one wants a red nose (which, by the way, is caused by dilated blood vessels). Since sun exposure can also cause redness, wear plenty of SPF 30 sunblock, even in the dead of winter. Kiehl’s makes a good one. And a warm — not hot — compress to the skin for a few minutes should also reduce redness.

3. Keep lips moist and crack-free. There’s no such thing as too much lip balm. It’s your first line of defense against chapped lips. Also avoid licking lips which dries them out even more.

For more tips to keep your skin healthy this winter, check out this post from Real Simple.

Is this blog post contributing to Global Warming?

January 13, 2009

You see this? The Times of London did a story exploring how much greenhouse gasses are created from doing a Google search and other web activities. Apparently two searches release the same amount of gas as it takes to boil a kettle of water. Servers and big computer machines apparently need a lot of power.

Unsurprisingly, Google took issue with the story, pointing out the apparent efficiency of their servers and claiming a search uses as much energy as a human body does in ten seconds, much less than boiling a half kettle of water.

I think a persuasive point they could have expanded on is that doing the amount of research a Google search does in pre-Google times would have taken many car trips to many libraries to look through stacks of paper.

Of course, back then, we didn’t have to update our status to the world every second, which probably could make a few kettles worth of tea.

Save some green at these I-GO Chi-Town Rewards businesses!

January 10, 2009

Are you taking full advantage of our Chi Town Rewards program? All you have to do is flash your I-GO card at participating businesses and you’ll receive a discount simply for being an I-GO member! We added 3 new Chi-Town Rewards businesses this month:

Green Dream Group
OFFER: 15% off home energy audit

*Home Energy Audits increase comfort and resale value, lower utility costs, and preserve the environment. Services: Blower Door, Infrared Thermographics, Utility Analysis, Energy Star Homes.

Lake Claremont Press
OFFER: Buy 2 books, get 1 free; buy 4 books, get 2 free; buy 5 books, get 3 free.

*A locally-owned publisher, specializing in books about Chicago and Chicago history, by Chicago authors with a passion and Chicago organizations with a mission.

Lillstreet Art Center
OFFER: 10% off class registration fees & gallery purchases

*A largy community of artists, open to all ages and skill levels. Lillstreet features 19 classrooms, over 50 studios, a gallery, story, cafe and more!

Check out the full list of participating businesses here.

World’s 1st plug-in hybrid fuel cell bus unveiled in Burbank, CA

December 28, 2008

Burbank Bus announced that they will be the first to put a plug-in hybrid fuel cell bus, the Proterra HFC35, into service. The Proterra can fully recharge in only 6 minutes (!) and can travel up to 250 miles before needing to be recharged. The bus has double the fuel economy of a diesel bus and releases nothing but water from the fuel exhaust. Moreover, the Proterra was created in this country (designed by Colorado-based Proterra) and uses power that is 100% derived from U.S. sources- meaning more energy independence for us. Burbank Bus plans to have the Proterra in operation within various routes by spring. Check out the full press release here. Wouldn’t it be cool to see these type of buses come to Chicago?