We've been conducting a (very) informal poll about what WNYC listeners are paying for their Christmas trees this year. John Roundcity, Foreman at SoHo Trees (stationed around the corner from WNYC headquarters), and Galen Parke, tree farmer and seller for Adam Parke Trees, break down the economics of the pop-up Christmas tree industry.
Is the tree guy around the corner selling for half the price you paid? Tell us how much you shelled out, and whether you feel you got a fair price. And if you're still shopping - check out the results on our XMas tree map.
Bike sharing is coming to San Francisco and Silicon Valley this August. It’s being launched on a small scale at first -- just 750 bikes in the whole system. But the city is turning to the public to help them plan the system's expansion.
In recent years, crowdsourcing has been a means of creating ensembles, symphonies and collections of scores.
Some of American rhetoric's most famous lines have been given during inaugural addresses.
Submit one line (and one line only!) that will echo through the ages in the comments section below.
Our year-end photo project asked you to submit your best cell phone shots of the year. We got hundreds of submissions, and now New York Times senior staff photographer and Lens blog co-editor James Estrin picks his favorites. See Jim's favorites below, and be sure to check out all the submissions here.
There are plenty of roundups of the year's best photographs, now the Brian Lehrer Show is compiling the best photographs -- that are sitting on your cell phone. Use the form below to upload your photograph, deadline is noon on Tuesday, December 25th.
UPDATE 06/11/2012: We have received over 500 submissions. We have submitted 151 locations of abandoned bikes to the City of New York. They won't accept more at this time unless we call each bike in, one by one. Here's that story, with a new map you can use to update or help us call those in.
For now if you want a derelict bike removed, be sure it meets the criteria below, and then call it in to 311.
ORIGINAL POST: Bike carcasses are a common site around New York City -- a dented frame chained to a street sign, wheels pilfered, seat long ago appropriated, rusted chain and remnants blighting even the swankiest of sidewalks like a broken window. What's a citizen to do?
We are no longer taking submissions.
Or email a picture to email@example.com and we'll add it to this map:
In late 2010, the Department of Sanitation of NY was given jurisdiction to remove derelict bikes (they also remove derelict automobiles) from public property like street signs. In January of this year, that power was extended to bike racks too. In 18 months, 40 have been snipped free to make room for functioning bikes to park.
The process is clunky: you call 311, must answer a series of questions confirming the condition of the bike, and explain to what it is locked, then you are transferred to a Specialist who takes the claim. DSNY then tags the bike, and seven days later returns to claim it as abandoned, removes and recycles it.
Forgive us this quick bit of math to make a point. There are about 500,000 occasional bike riders in New York City (they ride several times a month according to an NYC estimate). The bicycle advocacy group Transportation Alternatives estimates 200,000 daily riders. There's no official daily estimate for bike ridership, but the DOT counts six busy locations once a year for a snapshot, and at those six hotspots alone there are almost 19,000 commuting bike riders a day. There are a bit over 13,000 official Department of Transportation bike racks in NYC.
Some racks hold more bikes than others (let's say around two to ten). Many buildings also have bike storage or private bike racks, and of course there's the more common street sign, railing or, unfortunately for at least one city initiative, a tree to chain a bike to. So there's space to lock up in New York, but not enough prime space. Especially near busy subway stations where racks fill up, abandoned bikes are in the way.
What counts as an abandoned bike? That is determined by these criteria set by the DSNY. Three of the five must be met to be removed:
The bike must be locked to public property including: light poles, bus stop signs, parking meters, trees, tree pit railings and bike racks.
DSNY says they receive many calls about possible abandoned bikes, "but upon inspection by our field supervisor a large percentage of the bicycles don’t meet the criteria to be classified as derelict."
ADD TO THE MAP
So if you spot an abandoned bike, snap a picture and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the location feature on your phone or camera is enabled for photos, we can pinpoint the exact location right away. Otherwise, include information in your email about where the bike is and what else you know about it, and we'll manually put it on the map.
We'll also add it to the open-source database maintained by SeeClickFix for non-emergency, civic issues. There, you can comment on and update information about abandoned bikes in your area in the days and weeks to come.
The map here is fully embeddable, too. Just use the link on the map itself.
Our partner The Takeaway is gathering stories from around the country about how high gas prices are causing behavior changes. Some people say they're only running errands on the way home from work, no extra car trips! Others are changing up their summer travel plans.
How are high gas prices affecting you? And more importantly, what are you going to do about it? You can tell them about it in the form below or by texting GAS to 69866. You'll get a confirmation text to your mobile phone, with the option to leave a voice message (which they'd love to play on the air). Thanks!
More at The Takeaway.
A dead body found in a Missouri field, murdered, apparently, by a blow to the head. No witnesses, no murder weapon, and no apparent motive. The only evidence: two notes in the victim's pocket with a mysterious code scrawled upon them. Twelve years later, the case remains unsolved.
It's not the description of the opening scene from latest episode of "Cold Case," it's the true story of the murder of Ricky McCormick. An eccentric 41-year-old high school drop-out who had a passion for making encrypted notes, McCormick had last been seen five days before his murder in St. Louis, where he was undergoing treatment for heart and lung problems in June 1999. Investigators came to believe that the coded messages found in McCormick's pocket would point them in the direction of his murderer. But McCormick's code has proven to be too indecipherable for even the FBI, so after twelve years, the Bureau's Cryptanalysis and Racketerring Unit, in collaboration with the American Cryptogram Association, is turning to the internet for the answers.
NPR Music and Q2 want you to help us program a special music stream featuring composers under 40! Send us the names of your favorite composers, and, if you have specific favorite albums or pieces, let us know.
Not many people expected to say the word “crowdsourcing” in Bloomberg's 10th State of the City address on Wednesday.
Of course, it’s not surprising to hear the word employed in a public official’s speech. Far from simply being the latest fad, crowdsourcing is real, potentially quite powerful and should be thoughtfully engaged by government. What makes it surprising is hearing it in this mayor’s address, because Mayor Bloomberg is not a crowdsourcey kind of guy.
One of our partners The Takeaway has opened a collaborative project to get people like you all across the country helping us really understand the American commute. You can send in snapshots and sounds of your daily routine.
Share the pictures and the sounds of your morning commute. Send us a photo, a video or audio of one thing that tells the story of your commute. It could be the train that always comes late. The people you see on the bus line. The spot where you always park your car.
The Takeaway will harvest your daily observations, insights and gripes and post the collection here for listeners to vote on their favorites. You can upload a photo or audio file here, or you can download The Takeaway iPhone app and use that.
What is the American commute? Tell us.
For 57 days, oil has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, following an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. That's 57 days of trying to determine what the leak looks like, how big it is, who it's affecting and where the oil has hit land. In other words: 57 days to get pretty creative.
Jeff Warren is a student and fellow at the Center for Future Civic Media at MIT. He's working on mapping the Gulf leak using digital cameras tied to balloons and kites. Here are some of the photos Warren and his colleagues have taken, using cheap digital cameras, kites, garbage bags, and tanks of helium.
"You take each image and you stretch it on a map and then every pixel of the location is a place in the real world," says Warren.
Lauren Craig is a master's student at Tulane and a photo volunteer. She's one of the people attaching a camera to a balloon and taking thousands upon thousands of photos.
After the jump, a short video by Jeff Warren in which he describes the project.