Ufergängerzone

Waterside pedestrian zone.

In the summer of 2013, Paris’s mayor Bertrand Delanoë banned cars on a street for about two kilometers along the left bank of the Seine, creating a zone open to pedestrians and non-motorized two-wheeled contraptions. The wide new walkway goes from Pont de l’Alma to the Musée d’Orsay, creating a four-hectare waterfront idyll in the middle of Paris, said the Frankfurt business newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The former street now has jungle gyms for kids to play on, large containers of grass and trees, and very good-looking people to watch. It might be quieter too.

This was part of the former mayor’s political philosophy to try to make life more pleasant for nonmotorized inhabitants of his city. During his two terms, the mayor furthermore “got rid of parking spaces, added bus lanes, built new streetcars and started a public rental system for electric autos,” said FAZ.net, also blaming him for Paris’s 20,000 city bikes where the first half-hour is free. Paris now has city bike stands every few hundred meters; “no other city in the world has a network as dense.”

(OOF aw GENG aw TSOWN aw.)

Drahtesel

“Wire donkey,” a German nickname for bicycles because they speed you on your way while carrying quite heavy loads.

A Chicago couple has put together an economic development program called World Bicycle Relief. They’ve given away thousands of “Buffaloes,” very stable heavy bikes that can carry 100 kg over the rear wheel. The bikes have one gear and one back-pedal brake and are put together in Africa from parts made in Asia, by >60 mechanics working full-time. No unusual or proprietary tools are required, such as Allen wrenches or chain keys. Everything can be taken apart and re-assembled; there are no unnecessary rivets. World Bicycle Relief also teaches people how to repair the bikes.

The group tries to give more than half the bikes to girls. Because, around the world, girls are often sent to bring the day’s water for their families, walking such long distances that this chore keeps them from attending school. With a Buffalo bike, they can bring back the water and then bike to school.

FAZ.net said it’s a good thing these bikes are so stable because they’re being used to transport AIDS patients in a volunteer program in Zambia. Farmers can use them to bring produce and milk to market. The bikes can earn a little extra income by being rented out to neighbors.

(DRAUGHT aezle.)

“Wir brauchen keine Volksarmee, wir brauchen Butter!”

“We don’t need a People’s Army, we need butter!” The East German uprising of 1953  will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary on 17 June 2013. To spread the word about the general strike on 16 June, people went through the streets of East Berlin the night before calling out where and when to meet, as well as slogans like this one. During the day East German protesters apparently used loudspeaker cars and bicycles to communicate between strikes in the central and outlying districts, while the strikers themselves got around on public transportation such as trams and the metro. Wikipedia says a West Berlin radio station reported about the East Berlin strike, probably helping the protests spread to other East German towns.

Bertold Brecht wrote a poem about 17 June 1953 called “The Solution.”

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts.
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

(Vir   brow chh en   k eye neh   FOLKS arm ae,   vir   brow chh en   BOO ter.)

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