Our first full day in the penultimate spot on our trip (if you count the last, woeful night, planned for a Paris airport hotel), and what do we stumble upon on the partly cloudy banks of the Mediterranean? A car show.

Just a small one, something about zero-emission transportation. So there were a few bikes, but mostly EVs, i.e. electric cars. There was nothing there to really surprise the recently retired autos editor of a Detroit daily newspaper, but it did seem to focus something I’ve noticed since we’ve been in Europe, i.e. how much better they’re dealing with the constellation of issues we call “mobility.”

Never mind mass transit, which was outstanding in Paris and fine in Arles and Nice, with the famed Metro, plus buses and trams. Never mind the emphasis on getting people more or less safely (see entry of a few days back, ha ha) on bikes and other non—polluting vehicles. But pay close attention to the EV and hybrid situation, which is miles ahead of what I’ve seen so far in the States.

A friend of mine stumbled across a Facebook post on the new Ford Lighting, their all-electric F-150. The comments were furious and incendiary, from people incensed that Ford would even consider such a vehicle. They seem personally offended by the thought that one day they won’t be able to “roll coal” at some cyclist, because Joe Biden blah blah blah. Here’s a typical non-insane Michigan comment about EVs: “Huh. If I can’t get Up North on one charge, what’s the point?” (Up North being the vaguely defined region of rural Michigan where much of the populace vacations.) These people have no imagination, no faith in a buildable infrastructure of charging stations, of improved batteries, of…pretty much anything other than what they’ve always known.

And yet, here? The revolution is in progress. All the taxis in Paris are now hybrids. The buses, ditto. The mayor has made it a goal to get motor vehicles out of the central areas of the city a.s.a.p. In Nice, we’re staying in a car-free part of the city center, and I don’t notice any shortage of people able to enjoy it. Bikes whiz through here, along with Segways, scooters and other non-polluting vehicles. I have the feeling that travel always gives me — that the world has figured out a way to get along without my opinions, and is doing just fine.

(After-publication edit to add this, one of the more startling commuting-related sights we saw in Paris. It’s the closest thing to the Detroit Red Wings winged wheel I’ve ever seen, kind of a hoverboard but without the board, just two pedals straddling a single wheel. And it flies as fast as a bike — please don’t ask me how it’s braked — and carries a retractable handle to take it into your office. I was amazed.)

Meanwhile, here’s the best pic I took today, heading for the morning market to find breakfast fixings. OK, best two pics.

We’re thinking a day trip to Monaco is not out of the question. Gotta give myself a chance to catch a glimpse of my favorite princess, good ol’ Charlene. Later!

Posted at 11:45 am in Same ol' same ol' |

40 responses to “Mobility.”

  1. susan said on October 8, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    Quite a mound of dried tomatoes. That looks like dried eggplant there in the back. Cool! I dehydrate lots of mine, then use it, ground up into powder in a blender, to thicken pasta sauces and soups. Wonder how French people use it?

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  2. Beobachter said on October 8, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    A UK page on Electric Unicycles:

    Segway was bought out by Beijing-based Ninebot in 2015.

    Thumbs up on Nice to Monaco. In case you’re auto-less, did the Rick Steves recommended bus in 2014, I believe there is also a train.

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  3. Beobachter said on October 8, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    Susan, you’re right, the label reads ‘Aubergine’.

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  4. Deborah said on October 8, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    I’ve seen those pedal straddling single wheel thingys in Chicago. I’d probably fall off.

    Not much color on trees yet in Wisconsin. Seems odd that by now it’s not colorful.

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  5. Bruce Fields said on October 8, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    So much of politics feels like an endless exhausting argument with people that are unable to imagine that anything fundamental will ever change, and are unable to distinguish between a minor inconvenience and a major injustice.

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  6. Deborah said on October 8, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    We started seeing some color north of Eau Claire. And boy howdy this is serious Trump country. Our rental car has Florida license plates so we should be ok. Lots of signs on giant pickup trucks passing us.

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  7. LAMary said on October 8, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    There are free charging stations on power poles all over L.A. This city is one of the most EV and Hybrid cities in the world. Not just the expensive electric cars. Lots of KIAs, electric VW Golfs.

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  8. Sherri said on October 8, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    Ah, Bruce, you’ve been eavesdropping on my life!

    Too many people think their comfort is more important than someone else’s life.

    The group protesting about the purchase of a hotel in Redmond for a low barrier shelter is still up in arms, and will unfortunately be my problem before too much longer, as the next stage of the process will end up before planning commission. They insist they want to help the homeless, but…only the right sort of homeless, and not in THIS location, which is far too close to schools and daycares and other places where there are children. (There are no places in Redmond, or the entire Eastside suburbs, which would meet their requirements. I know this very well because I know precisely which locations in Redmond are 1000 feet away from schools and daycares, and that’s too close for them.)

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  9. basset said on October 8, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    Been driving around the state some for work. Last weekend I was in Sweetlips and Finger, today Hanging Limb. That’s Tennessee for ya.

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  10. Dexter Friend said on October 9, 2021 at 1:49 am

    NBC Nightly reports that flights will go up 40% between Halloween & Thanksgiving, then another 60% until Christmas, and rental cars continue to soar in cost.
    They screamed to book now.
    I love eggplant lightly battered and fried hard in olive oil. Going to buy one tomorrow.
    On the sports front, I finally believe the Detroit Red Wings will do better this season. I have watched a couple televised games and am impressed so far.
    Baseball playoffs are my heaven, so I am engulfed in happiness, even though the hated Astros are moiderin’ my White Sox.
    Last week Bill Ford was interviewed on NBC about the new F-150 EV. It was just a short time ago they went all-aluminum, and that went OK, I think…I see the trucks everywhere. All-electric…that is going to take time out here in the farms. Some towns don’t even have gasoline available after like 7:00 PM.
    For years I drove electric forklift trucks , and I mean all day long. More powerful, faster, no bottled gas leaks poisoning people…when the battery got low, a millwright switched them out with a hoist and good for another 10 hours of constant ramming around the huge factory. I may yet live to be able to get an EV…just not tomorrow.

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  11. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 9, 2021 at 8:06 am

    Ah, the endless search for the right sort of homeless. I’m just not patient enough for that sort of work, so we just work with the ones right in front of us. But I’d oddly reassured that on the Pacific coast you get the same sort of stupid we have bushel baskets of in my neck of the woods.

    Dexter, do you peel yours when you fry them up like that?
    Off to see how hard it will be to get through Brown County, Indiana; leaf peepers often make Nashville a bottleneck on my way into Bloomington from the east . . .

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  12. Icarus said on October 9, 2021 at 8:37 am

    I have not seen any Trump signage here in Olive Branch, MS. I’m certain the vast majority voted for the guy, but no over-the-top indication of it from what I’ve seen.

    Apparently, they make a distinction here as twice people have welcomed me to Northern Mississippi.

    Also, after having been unemployed for over a year, I finally picked up a contract job that I have mixed feelings about. I’m happy to have the work but it’s not a fulfilling assignment by any means. It burns me that my abusive office nemesis got to keep his job but that’s the way of Corporate America.

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  13. Connie said on October 9, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Jeff, you can avoid the leaf peepers in Brown county by going two exits further south and cutting across on US 50 and then back north. Good highway, no leaf peepers, I lived near 50 there for years and in the fall it is a much faster route.

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  14. Deborah said on October 9, 2021 at 10:02 am

    We’re pretty far north in Wisconsin at uncle J’s lake compound and the leaves are a bit past their prime, but mostly conifers so lots of dark green.

    I looked at a 2020 election map of Wisconsin and it’s typical in that cities are blue and then a vast sea of red all around. But there’s a surprising patch of blue in the extreme northwest tip, 3 counties up there that surprised me. David C do you know why that is? Is it Native American populations up there?

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  15. David C said on October 9, 2021 at 11:11 am

    It’s partly Native American tribes and partly union workers from the Superior and Duluth shipyards (if there are any left).

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  16. Connie said on October 9, 2021 at 11:13 am

    I have mentioned that we recently moved to a Flint suburb. In a back corner of my local Meijer store parking lot there is a long double row of chargers, prominently labelled Tesla. I hope they can also charge American made cars, because well, this is Flint. Flint still buys American. (There is a freeway exit right there.) I took a survey on my street the other day. The visible cars on the street were all American made, mostly Chevys, and one lone Ford f150. We are not the only two Chevy family on the street.

    We recently went for a drive to see the ragged house that my husband lived in when we met and it was finally gone. When he lived there it was a ragged GMI student neighborhood. Today it has been increasingly gentrified by Kettering University, a major positive change.

    And behind the house was the area known as “the bottoms,” the lowest point in Flint, once filled with GM plants. There was an old Fisher Body sign at the end of the street. This was the location of some major events in labor history, including the famous sit down strike. The area was recently named Michigan’s newest state park.

    So if he lived there now he would be across from a university and have a state park out his back door. But Bob Perani’s Pizza is no longer around the corner.

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  17. basset said on October 9, 2021 at 11:47 am

    We’re about to get rid of our Indiana-built Subaru, which has been a constant source of aggravation, and get a Chevy Equinox, built in Mexico. Haven’t owned a Chevy since the mid 70s but we rented one on vacation and liked it… which is, come to think of it, how we got into our first Subaru.

    Jeff, if you cut across 50 and take 231 up to Bloomington you’ll pass through the area I was born & raised in, Loogootee and points north… can’t really call it home though.

    Anyone here good at LinkedIn? I was trying to do a page edit this morning, specifically changing the banner picture on some featured content, and couldn’t get into edit mode. LinkedIn online assistance is about as much help as you’d expect.

    Leaves are just starting to turn here in middle Tennessee, getting a little color on the higher ground to the east.

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  18. basset said on October 9, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    John Lennon’s birthday today, he woulda been 81.

    Some of the Rolling Stones are close to that age, I think… they’re playing our local NFL stadium tonight, we’re gonna pass.

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  19. Sherri said on October 9, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    Jeff(tmmo), our version of stupid comes with a particular west coast twist: the founder of the group Safe Eastside that is organizing all the protests is Chinese-American, and was involved in the Tiannamen Square protests in China! The protestors are heavily Chinese-American.

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  20. David C said on October 9, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    I’ve seen Tesla to other car charger adapters in the auto store so it must be possible. I’ve never seen anything but a Tesla at the charging station near us though.

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  21. Icarus said on October 9, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve seen Tesla to other car charger adapters in the auto store so it must be possible.

    have we learned nothing from phone chargers or any other proprietary device! Just please everyone work together and agree on one interface!

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  22. LAMary said on October 9, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Tesla is an American company. Made in CA, soon to move to Texas. Musk says it’s because of taxes. He also gets in trouble with CALOSHA pretty often. I’m sure Texas will be less picky about employee safety and health.

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  23. David C said on October 9, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    This looks like the latest on charging. Every car, even Teslas have an SAE something or other charger connector. Tesla Superchargers have a proprietary connector.

    In light of the lawmaking in Texas I wonder how many will actually move from California to Texas. “Hey, it’s Austin” only goes so far.

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  24. LAMary said on October 9, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    My next door neighbor has a Tesla and an electric BMW suv. She uses her garage as an office so one car is parked in the driveway plugged in and the other is in the street plugged in.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on October 9, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    One of the Meijer stores in the Fort also has Tesla chargers, at the very very very edge of the parking lot. I never saw anyone charging up; I figure it’s good PR for Meijer and uses wasted space. I’m still thinking more about getting a hybrid than all-electric, but we aren’t ready to replace our car yet so in five years it may be different.

    I don’t want anything to do with Tesla and its toxic man-child owner.

    We are moving forward with solar heating for the pool. Even those it’s still blazing hot during the day (what fall colors?), nights cool off enough that it’s too cold. Swimming is the only exercise my joints can handle.

    I guess even Subarus have an occasional lemon despite their reputation. We drove two Toyotas for 17 or more years each with nary an issue. SIL bought a Camry and it was nothing but trouble. I’ve often wondered if its first owner skinted on maintenance, or if it was the exception to the rule.

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  26. David C said on October 9, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    The opposite happens too. I had a Dodge Stratus with a 2.7l V6 engine. Which was considered to be a bad car with a really bad engine. I drove it 210,000 miles over ten years before I turned it over to my niece. She drove it another two years before she traded it in, still running fine other than you had to pound on the dash to get the defroster to come on.

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  27. jcburns said on October 9, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    Up here in the Upper of Peninsulas, all three Meijers—Escanaba, Marquette, and Sault Ste Marie—have the Tesla chargers, and I have yet to see a Tesla hooked up. And our gas/electric is parked in our driveway in Atlanta, so no experimenting from me.

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  28. basset said on October 9, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Our 05 Camry was running just fine at 305k when it was hit from behind and totaled. Still in the mating dance stage on the Equinox, not sure which one we want.

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  29. Julie Robinson said on October 9, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    That was the year we had too, basset. Other than brakes, tires, and batteries, which I consider upkeep and not repairs, we had one bill of $450 over its entire life. We did oil changes and the like religiously. We’d still have it, but decided we only needed one car in retirement, so we kept the 2014 CRV. The Camry went to a nephew in need.

    What’s the gas mileage on an Equinox?

    jc, you’ve confirmed my suspicion about Meijer and Tesla chargers. Pure PR.

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  30. Deborah said on October 9, 2021 at 11:29 pm

    Today turned out to be a perfect day for uncle J’s memorial gathering, it rained in the early morning but totally cleared up by 11am for the event. It was casual and very moving. Hard to explain, I’ve never been to a memorial like this before. Different than I expected yet very satisfying as a way to say goodbye to someone who had a profound effect on my life at an age I never predicted. After the lovely memorial we had a hayride with the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and it was delightful.

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  31. nancy said on October 10, 2021 at 2:10 am

    There was a story on Michigan Radio about EV chargers in the UP, about how they’re barely used because Yoopers are still very suspicious about EVs. Batteries don’t run as long in the cold, and getting stranded in winter could be deadly. Etc. The people who have them believe and evangelize, but way more work to do. J.C., is that pine drying in the garage ready to work with yet?

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  32. Dexter Friend said on October 10, 2021 at 2:21 am

    JMMO: I wash the exterior and slice them the thickness of a ham steak, get the olive oil hot as possible to the point of smoking and just fry the eggplant slices …of course I don’t use too much oil because eggplant slices soak it all up like sponge. And I had to delay my trip to the market as the sun dried out the lawns, fore and aft, so mowing became Job 1.
    I was reading at SF dot com about Musk’s move to Texas, and the text reported the business HQ and many of the workers indeed will be transferring , but a substantial manufacturing force will remain in California.
    And I am happy tonight as the Michigan Wolverine football team went into Lincoln, Nebraska and emerged victorious.

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  33. basset said on October 10, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Julie@29, if I remember right it’s 26/28 or something like that, about the same as the Subaru… which got 36 on an interstate trip over the weekend. Carmax has one in Baltimore that’s pretty close to what we want, and another in Indianapolis. We’ll get it worked out.

    And what we’ve been hearing about the crazy used car market appears to be true, trade-in offer was only $1600 less than we paid for it going on two years ago.

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  34. basset said on October 10, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    And in today’s Formula 1 result, I see the only two American entries (American car, German and Russian drivers) finished 19th and 20th, two laps down, in a 20-car race. Been like that, or close to it, for some time.

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  35. Connie said on October 10, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    Bassett the top three Chevy vehicles on my street are 1. Traverse, 2. Silverado, and 3. Equinox. #4 vehicle is GMC pickup. We have had our used Traverse for several years with no major problems. And fwiw it has the easiest time changing method of all time.

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  36. LAMary said on October 10, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    The hospital I used to work for had chargers on the top floor of a three level parking garage. No Tesla chargers. Just the ones for the Volts, Leafs, VW Golfs. The only Tesla charger was in the doctor’s parking area. The cheaper model hadn’t come out yet then.

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  37. basset said on October 10, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    Based on prior conversations, I think this might be of interest to some of our community – a recent project done for a show on the Outdoor Channel, Civil War history about something that happened in northwestern Tennessee not far from Sherri’s hometown. Runs about nine minutes.

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  38. Bruce Fields said on October 10, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    “But I’d oddly reassured that on the Pacific coast you get the same sort of stupid we have bushel baskets of in my neck of the woods.”

    It’s so easy for people to recast their resistance to change into the language of their preexisting politics, no matter what their politics.

    I’m so impressed by and grateful to all the people who are able to wade through all that, and still keep trying to solve actual problems.

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  39. Sherri said on October 10, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    The funniest thing about Elon moving Tesla HQ to Texas is that you can’t buy a Tesla in Texas. Texas has a law protecting car dealerships that prevents car manufacturers from selling direct to consumer, and since Elon doesn’t do franchised car dealerships, he can’t sell in Texas. Since the Texas lege only meets every other year, and they have finished their session this year, that means no change to the law before 2023 at the earliest.

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  40. Deborah said on October 11, 2021 at 2:15 am

    Tesla is getting around that law in NM using Native American sovereignty there’s a paywall but you get a few free clicks each month.

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