Three great stories we found on the internet this week.

Spot on

Amsterdam’s endless rows of bicycles locked astride transit hubs are the envy of anyone who’s ever searched in vain for somewhere to lock up their Trek near the train station. This ample parking is part of the reason more than 40 percent of Dutch train passengers pedal to the station. How it materialized is the story of good business crossing paths with smart policy.

After Dutch Railways determined that bikes were providing critical first- and last-mile connections to its trains, it worked with the government to add vast quantities of bicycle parking to its stations. By 2019 there were half a million parking spots at railway hubs. The same swipe-card that passengers use to board the train grants them access to the parking area. Dutch Railways also rents bikes to its passengers through the country’s national bike share network. And of course, all this clean, secure parking is free — the railway agency views it as a loss leader.

“Bicycle parking itself isn’t a profitable business,” said Dutch Railways program manager for mobility. “But passengers buy tickets, they buy coffee at the station. If you add such revenues together, it becomes profitable.”

Read more at Bloomberg

A sweeter life for sugarcane cutters

More than a million sugarcane cutters work in Maharashtra, one of the most populous states in India. Exploitation is common: many laborers are working off deep debt, though this practice is illegal. Enter Ashok Tangade and Manisha Tokle, who have stepped in to help thousands of bonded laborers get out of these abusive arrangements — and to empower them by teaching them about their rights.

A woman from Nanegaon in the Kolwan Valley west of Pune carries water home past the sugarcane fields
There are more than a million sugarcane cutters in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Credit: Daniel Bachhuber / Flickr

Tokle and Tangade have been fighting bonded labor in the state for decades, sometimes involving the police, and sometimes working directly with sugarcane cutters. Though putting an end to bonded labor will require systemic change, the couple remains committed to the cause.

“As long as we live, we will keep working,” Tangade said.

Read more at the Christian Science Monitor

Welcome to the (temperate) jungle

When you think of the United Kingdom, you probably don’t picture rainforest. But in Cornwall, there are between 1,200 and 1,600 hectares of temperate rainforest — not tropical jungle, but dense, carbon-sequestering forest nonetheless. And Merlin Hanbury-Tenison, a farmer and veteran, wants there to be much more of it. 

This week, he introduced the Thousand Year Trust, a charity seeking lands fit for restoration, with the ultimate aim of tripling the United Kingdom’s temperate forest. On his own family farm, Hanbury-Tenison plans to foster natural regeneration and plant 100,000 trees. The charity is seeking additional lands to restore to rainforest.

“For too long, we had forgotten we even possessed this habitat,” Guy Shrubsole, a trustee of the Thousand Year Trust and the author of The Lost Rainforests of Britain, told the Guardian. “But now there is growing recognition of its wonders, and it seems to have really caught the public imagination.”

Read more at the Guardian