We Americans love e-bikes, and we should have bigger subsidies to get people to switch over to them. We just shouldn’t do what France is getting up to. All that and more in The Morning Shift for April 14, 2021.
1st Gear: Cash For Clunkers … With A Twist
Let me begin by saying that yes, Americans do want and love e-bikes:
I don’t even know why I keep bumping into people who talk about how much they want an e-bike, how much they talk about specs of e-bikes. I’m just happy I do. They’re great for getting around, and we’d be doing better as a country if a big chunk of car ownership got replaced with e-bike ownership.
France is possibly a model for this, offering 2,500 euros to e-bike riders. The problem is that it means trading in a car for the boost, as Reuters reports:
France is offering the owners of old, exhaust-belching cars the opportunity to hand over their vehicles for scrap in return for a 2,500 euro ($2,975.00) grant to buy an electric bicycle.
Why people need to hand in a car to get access to e-bike money, I do not know. The state should be supporting people getting into convenient transportation, car or no. I will say this, the philosophy behind the support is a good one, per Reuters:
If adopted, France will become the first country in the world to offer people the chance to trade in an ageing vehicle for an electric or folding bicycle, the French Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB) said.
“For the first time it is recognised that the solution is not to make cars greener, but simply to reduce their number,” said Olivier Schneider of the FUB.
Even if we did a one-for-one swap of fuel-burning cars to electric ones, we’d still have a ton of problems to deal with. Providing good alternatives to cars is imperative.
2nd Gear: BUILD Is Out, RAISE Is In
There’s a new name and new terminology for Department of Transportation grants for infrastructure. Gone is the Trump administration’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD). In is Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE). Aside from dumb names, the new program incentivizes “includes an emphasis on projects that address climate change and environmental justice,” as Transportation Topics reports. A solid $1 billion is available.
3rd Gear: Leave The Horses Alone, Elon
While the new Gigafactory outside Berlin struggles against German bureaucracy intended to protect wild spaces, Elon has been tweeting about how close his Nevada Gigafactory is to wild horses, as the New York Times reports:
The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, a 107,000-acre office park, is home to more than 150 companies with a combined annual payroll of $750 million. Tesla, which broke ground on its battery factory there in 2014, says it will be the biggest building in the world when completed.
Mr. Musk has used the wild horses as a selling point to lure workers. “Come work at the biggest & most advanced factory on Earth! Located by a river near the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains with wild horses roaming free,” he wrote on Twitter.
Actual environmental groups looking to protect the wild horses themselves and not just stare at them are less than jazzed, per the NYT:
“We get about five emergency calls a month in the slow season,” said Corenna Vance, the founder of Wild Horse Connection, an advocacy group. “Horses in traffic, on the wrong side of fencing, vehicular, train accidents, sick or ill horses.”
Rescues triple once mares start foaling, said Ms. Vance, whose annual budget is about $100,000, including small donations from the office park and tenants. She says further expansion depletes open spaces and decreases grazing areas.
“Horses have migration patterns, and when a development comes in, it cuts that off and there’s more interactions with people,” she said.
4th Gear: Big Three Oppose Republican Voting Restrictions
Heads of GM, Ford, and Stellantis have spoken out against Republican anti-voting plans in Michigan, as the Associated Press reports:
The leaders of three-dozen major Michigan-based companies, including General Motors and Ford, on Tuesday objected to Republican-sponsored election bills that would make it harder to vote in Michigan and other states.
The businesses issued a joint statement saying they are united for principles such as equitable access to the ballot and the avoidance of moves that reduce voting, particularly among historically disenfranchised communities.
The statement was signed by GM’s Mary Barra, Ford’s Jim Farley and Mike Manley from Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler. It also was signed by executives from all four Detroit professional sports teams — including Christopher Ilitch, owner of the Tigers and Red Wings — and the leaders of auto suppliers, a major utility, banks and other businesses.
They stopped short of weighing in on specific legislation in Michigan and other states, but said election laws must be developed in bipartisan fashion. They added that government should continuously improve and strengthen election administration “because public faith in the security and integrity of our elections in fundamental.”
5th Gear: Police Continue To Use Force Against Daunte Wright Protests
Daunte Wright was killed after getting pulled over for air fresheners hanging in his rearview mirror, and police have been handling the ensuing protests as you’d expect:
As ever, we need to end traffic stops.
Reverse: The Joad Family Is Gearing Up For A Road Trip To California!
Neutral: How Is Your Local Bike Lane Situation?
Here in Brooklyn, riders have access to America’s oldest bike lane. Unsurprisingly, it is in such bad shape, so cracked, bumpy, and tight that riders often avoid it.