I belong on the road as much as any man. Male rage won’t scare me off my bike

 ‘As a female cyclist, you are all too often the target of a particularly
unsavoury male aggression.’ Photograph: Steve Vidler/Alamy
Video of a woman being pushed off her bicycle by an angry pedestrian has inflamed social media. But while the abuse female cyclists get is real, the freedom bikes offer more than makes up for it

“Please don’t try and knock me off.” It’s not exactly the rallying cry of Henry V. And yet, a video released yesterday by London Metropolitan police showing a woman getting pushed off her bike by a pedestrian in a grey hoodie after uttering these words has acted as a balefire to cyclists and their would-be murderers across the internet.
“Not justifying violence but as a London pedestrian who sees ignorant cyclists like this every day, I understand the rage,” commented @OffencePolice on Twitter. “I would have bitten her finger off,” added @yermastinks. “Most of you cyclist have no no respect to drivers that has to work and look after their family’s,” [sic] added @kelkoca, helpfully.
To watch a woman get pushed from her bike, into oncoming traffic, to hear her body hit the ground and her cry of fear as she slams against the road, is awful. So imagine then taking to Twitter to write: “Let us know if you catch him so I can buy him a pint,” like “Millwall supporter and general nice bloke” @BermondseyGB did. The fact that the light was red, that the cyclist had right of way, that to push someone into the path of an oncoming car is wilfully dangerous and that giving the finger (as the attacker accuses) is hardly grounds for assault, seems so obvious as to barely be worth saying. And yet it is worth saying. We deserve better than this. We all deserve better than this.
As a female cyclist, you are all too often the target of a particularly unsavoury male aggression. Whether that’s the violent sexual threats shouted from passing vehicles, the passive aggressive “tutoring” by older men at traffic lights who tell you how to hold your own handlebars, being slowly and wilfully pushed off the road by City boys in their shiny black cars who cannot bear to have the throbbing power of their engine compromised by a woman on a bicycle, or the subtle patronising aggression you can feel from men in bike shops, we’re too often made to feel unwelcome, in the way, out of our depth or unworthy.
“I hope you die, you cunt,” shouted a cab driver at one female friend after almost killing her on a back street in Angel. “Stupid little whore” shouted a middle-aged white man in an estate car at another, before adding “fucking cyclist scum,” as she dared to turn right at a junction. These sexual threats say: “You don’t deserve to be on the road. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re indecent, depraved, ignorant and dangerous.” Which, of course, is pure pedal-powered bullshit.
I have been cycling through cities and across countries since I was nine years old. My first bike – a hand-painted, two-tone purple Raleigh – was more than just an unexpected Prince tribute. It was freedom. I never have to worry about night buses, don’t have to catch a last train, am at liberty to go wherever I want, whenever I want, and at speed.
The first time I cycled from my front door to the sea (a ride of about 65 miles thanks to a particularly poor map) I stood on the beach, looked out at a bending blue horizon and realised that I had reached the very edge of the country using nothing more than my thighs, sweat and gears. I felt like Tessie Reynolds, the 16-year-old girl who shocked 19th-century England by cycling from London to Brighton and back in eight hours, wearing knee-length breeches. I felt like Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst cycling around Manchester and London agitating their female comrades. I remembered the words of the American suffrage campaigner Susan B Anthony: “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling: I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.”
From suffragettes to midwives, Olympians to resistance fighters, commuters to campaigners, the history of the bicycle runs like a dual carriageway alongside the history of feminism. Cycling put us in trousers, let us pass messages behind the frontline, stood us on podiums, helped us mobilise in the streets, took us out of our conscribed domestic sphere and taught us the thrill of having the wind in our eyes. Despite the warnings from AD Shadwell published in 1897, our wombs did not fall out, we did not suffer dementia and we avoided the “bulging eyes” and “tightened mandible” that characterised the dreaded (and entirely fictional) “bike face”.
And we are good cyclists. Many of those victim-blaming on Twitter were keen to point out that cyclists jump red lights, cycle on pavements or hog the road. To which I say yes, sometimes, we do. The mayor of London does, the prime minister does and probably I have too. Primarily because I don’t want to be accidentally crushed by an HGV – one of the few road casualties that disproportionately affects women, too timid to overtake on the right or pull ahead, out of a driver’s blind spot. But the urge to push a woman off her bike while calling her a mug and shouting in her face has very little, if anything, to do with road hogs and red lights.
Of course, this video is news precisely because it is out of the ordinary; shocking, unpleasant and unexpected. It caused controversy because this isn’t the sort of thing we see every day. As a woman on a bike, you may occasionally feel bullied on and off of the road, but don’t let one furious man colour your view of cycling altogether. Yes, you may sometimes get strangers commenting on your legs, you may get taxi drivers pushing you into parked cars, you may be laughed out of a bike shop for asking about panniers, you may have a door opened on to your oncoming knees, you might get a middle-aged, lycra-clad bore asking “is that’s your dad’s bike, love?”, you might nearly get hit by pedestrians tapping away on their phones and you might get heckled by people outside pubs. But, my god, it’s worth it.
The world and its roads are there for the taking; we can chase the wind and conquer the weather, we can get anywhere at any time without spending a penny or relying on anyone. A bike is a two-wheeled instrument of freedom, emancipation and power. And most of us don’t even have to worry about crushing our testicles on the crossbar. So go on, put some fun between your legs. Get back in the saddle. You can give a man a fish, but you should give a woman a bicycle."

His class attendance went from 40% to 93%. Because of a garden?

Por Adam Mordecai

"Steve Ritz was just like any other parent, doing his best to get by. Then tragedy struck.
From that pain, he decided to refocus his energy on helping other kids.

He went to teach in one of the most troubled schools in the South Bronx.

It had a 17% graduation rate, lots of violence, lots of poverty, and lots of really hungry kids. In fact, 99% of Steve's students qualified for free or reduced lunch.
The South Bronx is what those who work in nutrition call a "food desert." A food desert is what happens when a neighborhood or city doesn't have easily accessible and affordable healthy food. All they have are corner stores and fast food, while real grocery stores are in limited supply.
 During his work, he discovered that most of the kids who are considered learning disabled wouldn't have been if they'd had proper prenatal nutrition.
Many of the people who live in the South Bronx also suffer from something called "food insecurity." Food insecurity means you don't know where your next meal will come from. For people who live in food deserts, this is a fairly common feeling.
The students that Stephen teaches struggle with all kinds of problems. Most of his kids are homeless. Many are in foster care.
70% of his students were considered "learning disabled" but didn't have to be.
During his work, Stephen discovered that most of the kids who are considered learning disabled wouldn't have been if they'd had proper prenatal nutrition.
Then fate set him and his students on a new path.

One day, someone sent him a donation of daffodil bulbs.

Finding that the bulbs had turned into flowers behind the radiator inspired them to dream big.

So he and the kids created the Green Bronx Machine.

The Green Bronx Machine is a nonprofit devoted to growing healthy food curriculums and economies locally. It teaches kids how to be healthy and provides them with healthy food options, which in turn helps them focus and perform better in and out of school.

Together, they've created a school curriculum around healthy eating and gardening.

The students grow food (30,000 pounds of it to date), and they create sustainable gardens on roofs and in classrooms all over New York (creating jobs for some of the teens in the program). The kids have significantly increased their academic achievement.
And even better? The students get to eat the things they grow and bring food home, too, while learning how to farm and manage food production at the same time.

The bottom line: Teaching kids how to grow things helps them grow.

The kids in Steve's class went from a 40% attendance rate to a 93% attendance rate, and they're getting 100% passing rates on New York State Examinations.
All the data point toward future health and success for the students and the program.
Take it away, Mr. Ritz:

Watch the video and hear their story:

Want to help them make their program even better?

PS 55 donated an old library room with lots of sunlight to create a brand-new learning center for his students. They call it The National Health and Wellness Center at PS 55.
What will it do? According to the site:
 Indoor Teaching Farm – we will teach students hands-on about food from seed to harvest, and will connect lessons to classroom curriculum.
Teaching Kitchen – we will teach students how to prepare and cook the vegetables they have just grown to create delicious, healthy meals.
Media and Resource Center – students will have access to computers for data recording and analysis, and internet for research and inter-classroom lessons with other schools across the country and internationally.
Indoor Community Farm – we will grow enough food to send 100 students per week home with bags of fresh vegetables, 52 weeks per year.

If you'd like to help make it a reality, you can donate here."

Fonte e imagens: http://www.upworthy.com/his-class-attendance-went-from-40-to-93-because-of-a-garden?c=ufb1

Seguro escolar não paga acidentes de alunos que vão de bicicleta para a escola

Portaria com 16 anos só cobre acidentes dos alunos que
vão a pé 

Na escola “Aníbal Cavaco Silva”, em Boliqueime, pais e alunos vão este domingo “De bicicleta em família” a pedalar para que seja alterada uma lei anacrónica.

Os acidentes com bicicletas, no decorrer do trajecto de casa para escola, não estão cobertos pelo “seguro escolar”. Em caso de acidente, o seguro só vale de alguma coisa se o aluno fizer a deslocação de casa para a escola a pé. Hoje, na escola Básica Integrada, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, em Boliqueime, um grupo de pais e alunos vai “pedalar”, para que seja alterada uma portaria, publicada há 16 anos, quando os transportes alternativos e a mobilidade suave não faziam parte do quotidiano da vida dos portugueses.
Paulo Carvalheiro, professor de Educação Visual, luta há quase duas décadas para alterar as mentalidades, em relação à mobilidade. Quando começou a ir de bicicleta de casa para a escola, - numa altura em que as atenções estavam viradas para último modelo de automóvel acabado de sair (mesmo que fosse comprado a crédito),- foi visto como uma espécie de extraterrestre. “Paulo, estás bem? … Passa-se alguma coisa?”, diz, a lembrar algumas das perguntas que colegas e amigos lhe faziam, quando chegava, de pedaleira, para se livrar do “sarilho” automobilístico. As coisas mudaram, em termos de aceitação social, mas a lei permaneceu colada ao passado.   
Segundo a Portaria 413/99, de 8 de Junho (artigo 25º, alínea f, estão excluídos da cobertura do seguro escolar “os acidentes que ocorram em trajecto com veículos com ou sem motor, que transportem o aluno ou sejam por este conduzidos”. O diploma, subscrito pelos ministérios das Finanças, Educação e da Saúde, só admite excepção, para efeitos de cobertura de risco, se o uso da bicicleta for inserido numa “actividade escolar”. O valor do prémio pago pelo Estado à seguradora corresponde a um por cento do ordenamento mínimo nacional (cerca de cinco euros/ano) por cada aluno. Os acidentes que possam vir a ocorrer com os veículos afectos aos transportes escolares, também estão fora da cobertura desta apólice - mas nesse caso existe um seguro especifico de responsabilidade civil.
O presidente da Federação Portuguesa de Cicloturismo e Utilizadores da Bicicleta (FPCUB), José Manuel Caetano, reclama a revogação do diploma que considera anacrónico: “Não faz sentido que haja uma lei a discriminar o uso da bicicleta, quando o risco de sinistralidade com este veículo, quando comparado com o automóvel, não é mais do que uma formiga em relação ao elefante”. Paulo Carvalheiro, que fez a escola primária na Alemanha – onde aprendeu a dar as primeiras pedaladas – justifica o encontro “De bicicleta em família”, (inserido no programa Europen Cycling Challenger 2015), como uma forma de chamar a atenção para a necessidade de inverter o estado das coisas.
A proposta consiste em fazer um passeio entre Vale Judeu e Boliqueime, convidando os pais e os filhos, a percorrerem cerca de sete quilómetros, por uma via do interior. Este é o caminho que ele faz todos os dias de casa para a escola onde dá aulas e, ultimamente, duas vezes por semana – à quarta e à sexta - acompanhado de um grupo de dez alunos. “Quero demonstrar, no Domingo, que o percurso é seguro”. Aliás, ressalva: “ quero compartilhar este luxo - de manhã, a ouvir os passarinhos, e não as buzinadelas dos carros a passarem por nós”. 
O professor, de 47 anos, dinamizador da equipa de BTT da escola, reconhece que se seria “mais confortável” não desafiar as instituições. “É um risco”, admite, mas acha que é  “urgente mudar, em diversos contextos” a forma como é olhado este meio de transporte. “É necessário criar vias, com segurança, para que os pais não fiquem casa com o coração nas mãos”, diz, referindo-se ao trabalho que falta fazer da parte dos municípios. Ao nível da região falta, também, concluir a Ecovia do Algarve. No troço entre Faro e Olhão, por exemplo, os ciclistas são convidados a deixar o percurso junto à ria Formosa, sendo empurrados para o meio do intenso e perigoso tráfego da Estrada Nacional (EN) 125.
Por seu lado, José Manuel Caetano, destaca o papel que a escola deve ter na “formação de cidadãos responsáveis”, destacando as boas práticas de vida saudável, a andar de bicicleta. Paulo Carvalheiro vai mais longe, na ligação entre o sucesso no ensino e a prática desportiva. Para isso, recua a 1994, o ano em que deu aulas em Quarteira. “Querem dar uma volta de bicicleta comigo?”, A resposta, vinda de uma turma de alunos considerados “problemáticos”, surpreendeu. Alguns jovens que outros consideravam “perdidos” numa comunidade multicultural, diz, encontraram um novo rumo. Agora, seguindo o lema da canção, de Zeca Afonso,  “vem, e traz um amigo também” fez da bicicleta a sua “arma” na luta pela inclusão social."

Give us a garden and we can cultivate our own hope and wellbeing

The therapeutic benefits of gardening have been recognised by charities
such as Freedom from Torture, which use it to help rehabilitate
victims. Photograph: Alexey Stiop/Alamy
por in The Guardian, 01.07.2014

"Working my patch of soil brings me a lot more than just veg. The mental health benefits of gardening should be nurtured

This is the season of abundance, when the garden is at its fullest. Flowers are in bloom and the grass is pushing through so fast that half an hour after mowing it you seem to be back where you started.

This year, for the first time, I am attempting to grow my own veg. An attempt that has so far proved wildly successful, which is to say that the beds have gone wild with an almost indecent profusion of lettuce and kale and spinach and some red leafed thing – I can't now remember what it was, nor whether you're meant to cook it.
I am a total horticultural novice but you cannot plant so much as a plug of curly leaved parsley without feeling a connection not only to the earth but to the countless generations who have worked the land before you. To plant and to tend and to harvest what you grow is to feel an elemental sense of belonging that is deeply therapeutic.
My friend and gardening mentor agrees. Originally from Malaysia, Tash has lived in the UK for more than 25 years since he first arrived, aged 16. His ancestors were also immigrants, travelling from the rice fields of south-eastern China to settle in what was then Malaya. "It's quite literally about putting down roots," he tells me. "It's no coincidence that so many people who have allotments in London originally come from somewhere else, from Turkey for example, or Bangladesh."
The charity Freedom From Torture (formerly the Medical Foundation for the Care of the Victims of Torture) has been using gardening as a form of therapy and rehabilitation for more than 20 years. Mary Raphaely, co ordinator of its Natural Growth Project says that clients can find "an initial spark of hope" in nature.
A project client, Suleyman, agrees, "To begin with I tried antidepressants. But nothing seemed to keep the memories away. Everything was darkness – and I hated the city, where I felt confined and unable to speak or do anything. Then I came here and everything seemed familiar. I am always at one with the earth. If the garden looks good, I feel good. When the soil sleeps, I sleep. Apart from these things you have, these snails and slugs which were new to me, there is no evil in the garden".
The mental health charity Mind is also attempting to harness the therapeutic power of nature with its EcoMinds programme. Between 2009 and 2013, EcoMinds funded 130 projects across England with activities including gardening, food growing and environmental conservation. Over 12,000 people participated and more than seven out of 10 reported a "significant increase" in mental wellbeing. Last October, it launched Ecotherapy Works, a national campaign targeting health and wellbeing boards with evidence of the effectiveness of ecotherapy.
I think such schemes have tremendous potential for improving the mental and physical wellbeing of participants. When I think of the 18 months I spent sitting in the common room of an inner-city day hospital, with a dead plant in the corner, smoking and drinking tea; and imagine instead spending them outside, not shut off from the world but an active part of it, feeling the rhythms of the earth, at one with the seasons, hands covered in soil, it does seem to me a more promising environment in which to seek to recover. An environment that can wordlessly offer activity, community, a sense of purpose, hope.
Because if gardening links us into the past, to those who have dug the earth before, inevitably it points to the future too. Again and again, in that simple act of planting, I express my belief in the promise of tomorrow."

The great garden swindle: how developers are hiding behind shrubbery, por Oliver Wainwright

A High Line for London? What the Braithwaite viaduct in Shoreditch might
look like. Photograph: Bishopsgate Goodsyard

"From trees on bridges to magical parks, London’s most damaging developments are using green garnish as a decoy to distract from what’s really going on

Spring has sprung and developers are getting green-fingered. Across London, their planning applications are sprouting leaves and bursting into bloom. They’re promising trees on bridges and jungles in the clouds, sky-gardens and life-giving linear parks, along with a whole network of green ribbons weaving through town.
Who could say no to this fecund vision for London? What mean-spirited planning committee would stand in the way of this pastoral dream? Very few can resist the lure of a good garden. That is precisely the problem.
Developers have got wise to the power of a few plants in easing their bloated schemes through the planning system. They’ve realised that a little green garnish can mask a multitude of sins. A clutch of 40-storey luxury apartment towers in a conservation area, you say? But check out that lovely lawn! A bridge-shaped tourist attraction for a stretch of the Thames that doesn’t need another crossing,to be built at vast expense to the taxpayer? But what nice shrubs it has! The word “garden” has never been misused as such a damaging decoy.
If ever evidence were needed that the promised planting of a CGI mirage might not be as good in reality, it can be found 150 metres up in the air at No 20 Fenchurch Street. The 37-storey Walkie-Talkie tower was given planning permission in an area never intended for tall buildings – way outside the City’s planned “cluster” – on the sole basis that it would come with a majestic “sky garden”.
The Walkie Talkie 'Sky Garden' … vision vs reality.
 The Walkie-Talkie ‘Sky Garden’ … vision vs reality. Image: 20 Fenchurch Street
The planning application featured a storyboard of seductive images, from pensioners mingling among the cherry blossom to visitors staring out in awe at the neighbouring towers, all from the vantage point of this fairytale bower in the sky. Policies could be breached and all would be forgiven for the joy this Babylonian utopia would bring.
The reality, as documented in these pages, is more like a couple of rockeries and a few trees in pots. It has all the sylvan charm of an office lobby – a public space for which you must book in advance and go through airport-style security to savour.
It is an underwhelming precedent that makes the proposed garden bridge seem all the more unlikely to deliver the promised dream of a floating forest across the Thames. Joanna Lumley’s plan, that people will be able to “walk through woodlands over one of the greatest rivers in the world,” is more likely to end up seeing crowds shuffling across a windswept deck, picking their way between a few shrubs that are clinging on for dear life.
A closer look at the planning application reveals what the feted bridge will actually look like from the south bank. Buried in the Environmental Statement, Volume 8, Appendix 15, page 27, lurks a verified view of the reality of this great chunk of engineering. It will be a copper-clad aircraft carrier, topped with a meagre green sprinkle – what my colleague Rowan Moore so elegantly described as “urban parsley”. A judicial review has been launched against the planning permission.
The garden bridge … vision vs reality?
 The garden bridge … vision vs reality? Image: Garden Bridge Trust
It’s easy to giggle at the folly of the garden bridge, but this wilting parsley has become a scourge. Across London, this green dressing is being used to soften the blow of steroidal overdevelopment, with slivers of park threaded between bulging apartment blocks. On the Greenwich Peninsula, where the developer Knight Dragon has almost halved its affordable housing commitment, the flats are currently being marketed with “views of Central Park”. They must be jolly high.
Some of the apartment blocks already built there have tried the “vertical garden” trick too, with forlorn patches of green wall hanging off the facade like sticking plasters trying to hide the bin store. As one Twitter wit put it when I posted a photo of the wretched thing: “Certainly sir, a two-bed maisonette. And would you like salad with that?”
The former Heygate estate in Elephant and Castle is being recast as “Elephant Park”, because there will be some greenery in the middle of the development – to be planted long after Lend Lease’s elephant of regeneration has charged through and trampled the council flats to dust. Further west, among the thicket of towers currently sprouting between Vauxhall and Nine Elms, will one day weave a kilometre-long linear park, or “a sustainable green backbone” as the developer Ballymore has it.
“This extraordinary green channel will be entirely open to the public and a focal point for shopping, sports, leisure and recreation, outdoor events and all forms of community life,” they coo. “Its edges will be lined with homes, shops, cafes, leisure venues and other attractions to draw people in and activate the space.”
The 'sustainable green backbone' proposed to weave through Nine Elms.
 The ‘sustainable green backbone’ proposed to weave through Nine Elms. Image: Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership
But with most of the development being marketed to overseas investors, who are unlikely to ever set foot here, it’s hard to imagine what kind of community life will occur on the great green carpet. Still, at least it will provide a “visual amenity” for those looking down from their £9m penthouses, if they ever bother to collect the keys.
The other side of town, at Bishopsgate Goodsyard in Shoreditch, the same developer is using a similar strategy of Potemkin planting to distract attention away from what they’re really doing on the other side of the hedge. London will be gifted with a spectacular new High Line, they trumpet, with a pocket park perched atop the crumbling remains of the old Victorian railway arches. Having suffered decades of neglectful vandalism, the Braithwaite viaduct – one of the oldest rail structures in the world – will be reincarnated as a “rich multi-layered three-dimensional landscape concept,” complete with bountiful retail pavilions and something that looks like a Swiss chalet.
Views of the new park are, as ever, carefully choreographed so as not to show the seven towers of luxury flats that will loom over your head as you and the rest of Tech City guzzle your lunch on a small patch of grass. There may only be 10% affordable housing in the £800 m development – in boroughs where policy aims for up to 50% – but oh! How about that lovely multi-layered landscape concept? Just look at those bushes ..."