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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Traffic accidents did not kill a single pedestrian or cyclist last year in either Helsinki or Oslo.

The big picture: The main ingredient in these cities' successes should not surprise you: They made their streets a lot less accommodating to cars.

Denser cities have an inherent advantage in walkability, and older cities often have more rail infrastructure. But Helsinki also employed plenty of modern interventions that other cities can learn from, Streetsblog notes.

  • Wide sidewalks and narrow traffic lanes prioritize people over cars, and the city has almost 750 miles of protected bike lanes.
  • Helsinki also has gradually lowered its speed limits. Most local roads now have limits of about 20 mph, and major arterials are as low as 37.

Go deeper: In a study published in January, an international group of researchers studied the road and transit layouts of nearly 1,700 cities, breaking them down into nine types to analyze their safety.

  • Unsurprisingly, density, short blocks and the availability of mass transit all contributed to fewer injuries.

The bottom line: "The best approach is to get people out of cars in the first place, and to design cities in ways that people are using motor vehicles less," one of the study's authors told Fast Company.

Go deeper

13 mins ago - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.