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With summer finally here, bike sharing systems like Nice Ride Minnesota and Boston’s Hubway are welcoming riders back for the 2015 season. For the bike sharing industry as a whole, however, there’s a lot more on the horizon than just warmer weather.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Important issues such as funding and equity are poised to come to the forefront this year as the industry continues to grow and evolve. While the outlook seems to be mostly sunny from our vantage point, here are five bike sharing trends—both promising and troubling—to watch in 2015:
1. P2P bike sharing reinvents itself
Peer-to-peer (P2P) bike sharing, which allows individuals to rent out their bikes when not in use, is an interesting concept that hasn’t quite caught on. Earlier this year, however, leading P2P provider Spinlister announced a new business model that will use P2P bike sharing as a way to help people finance the purchase of a new bike.
Spinlister and Dutch company Vanmoof will partner together to manufacture handsome, high-quality bikes—set to roll out in Portland late this summer—with built-in technology like Bluetooth-enabled locks that are specifically designed for use in P2P networks. Members can purchase the bikes from Spinlister and then pay for them over time using rental revenue.
2. The big get bigger
The country’s biggest bike sharing systems, including Citi Bike in New York and Divvy in Chicago, have announced plans for major expansion over the next several years. Chicago is growing its system to 476 stations and 4,760 bikes. Citi Bike will add 90 new stations by the end of 2015, and expects to have more than 700 stations and 12,000 bikes by the end of 2017. On the west coast, a proposal was announced recently to expand Bay Area Bike Share tenfold, from 700 to 7,000 bikes. Additionally, small and mid-size cities like Seattle and Indianapolis are also growing successful bike sharing systems of their own.
3. Look mom, no docks
The industry has been closely following the progress of up-and-comer Social Bicycles, which is pioneering a new model of bike sharing that puts GPS technology directly in its bikes, rather than in smart docks or stations. With SoBi’s model, riders are free to park their bikes anywhere within a geo-fenced area using built-in locks. Other users can then find the bikes using a web-based app, similar to one-way carsharing.
The model requires much less infrastructure than traditional bike sharing systems, and the tech-enabled bikes can provide data on miles traveled, calories burned, CO2 reduced, and more. SoBi is currently operating in several North American cities including Phoenix, Orlando and Buffalo.
4. Funding issues continue
Despite the industry’s momentum, some cities have still struggled to adequately finance bike sharing. Most recently, the news about the dire financial straits of San Antonio Bike Share captured significant attention. As is common, the system’s bike sharing operations are run by a nonprofit while a private company services the bikes and stations. Unlike other systems, however, San Antonio Bike Share does not receive local government funding or have a corporate sponsor.
Many have observed that bike sharing seems to be caught in a gray area between public transportation and private industry, and have called for a better long-term funding solution. Recently, transportation advocates have sought to push the message that bike sharing is transit, and deserves to be publicly subsidized just like trains, buses and any other form of public transportation.
5. Increased focus on equity
Analysis of a recent member survey by Washington, DC’s Capital Bikeshare revealed that half of survey respondents reported an annual income of $100,000 or more. The story further underscored criticism that bike sharing has largely failed to reach low-income residents. Fortunately, it looks like the industry will be making some major headway in addressing equity issues in 2015.
Philadelphia’s new Indego bike sharing program, which launched in late April, has an especially strong equity component. One third of the 600 bikes in the Indego system will be located in low-income neighborhoods, and all residents will have the option of paying with cash if they don’t have access to a credit card or bank account. Philadelphia will also be hiring specially trained neighborhood ambassadors to engage residents and show them how to use bike share.
Chicago recently launched a new Divvy for Everyone (D4E) program focused on increasing Divvy’s availability to low-income communities and unbanked residents. With help from a grant by the Better Bike Share Partnership, D4E will provide discounted annual memberships for qualified applicants. The program will also feature additional citywide outreach in partnership with several community organizations.
Addressing these remaining challenges is important because bike sharing has the ability to play a vital role in providing first/last mile solutions and boosting connectivity within transit systems, in addition to obvious environmental benefits.
Shared-Use Mobility Center is a public-interest partnership working to foster collaboration in shared mobility (including bike-sharing, car-sharing, ride-sharing and more) and help connect the growing industry with transit agencies, cities and communities across the nation.
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In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
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Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
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By Zulfikar Abbany
Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
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