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Community / Public space

Emergency Ubers, cities for the elderly and how the New York subway got its colours

Our weekly round-up of city stories we enjoyed elsewhere.

Uber 911

So apparently, the average wait time for an ambulance in New York City is more than double that of an Uber. This startling fact inspired a grand proposition from a writer at Medium: why not fit out Uber cabs with first aid kits and let them get there first?: 

Properly trained Uber drivers could act as a fast vector of care delivery for certain medical conditions, while traditional, expert care is concurrently called upon as “back-up.”

…It simply needs to mandate all its drivers to carry one automated external defibrillator (AED) and to go through the American Heart Association’s brief (only 4 hours) CPR and AED training course. 

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We’re not holding out much hope – Uber’s PR strategy tends to include puppies and models rather than saving lives – but it’s an interesting thought experiment.  

A silver revolution 

A piece in the Guardian this week on making cities more usable for older people speaks to a broader question: why are streets designed with an arbitrarily-chosen “normal” person in mind? From the piece:

Cities are designed for a mythical average person – super-mobile, without dependents or disabilities but with a cast-iron bladder.

This person is more likely to be young than old. And yet by 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities and, in high-income societies, a quarter of them will be over the age of 60.

Manchester was the first British city to join the World Health Organisation’s Age-Friendly Cities project. Let’s hope others follow. 

Just So subway story 

If you’re into the history of maps (who are we kidding, of course you are), then this is the story for you: in the 1950s, Raleigh D’Adamo, a young lawyer won a competition to redesign the New York Subway map, and took an axe to the existing map’s colour scheme. Until then, it used only three colours based on the three operators, making it, as you’d imagine, near-impossible to read:

Detail from a 1948 subway map.

He replaced the three with a new colour for every route. You can read more on the story at Curbed

All day long 

And finally, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to ride on the same London bus for nearly an entire day, but haven’t quite managed to try it yourself, then Vice has your back. The publication, somewhat sadistically, sent a reporter to spend 20 hours on the same London bus and write up what he learned from it.

Revelations include the fact that buses are nicest in the afternoon, and that sitting on a bus for a full 20 hours gets a bit lonely after a while. 
This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.