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!