By Donal on Sat, 02/04/2012 - 12:35am | Politics, Technology
I stopped by Light Street Cycles today to buy a brighter taillight. The weather's been so unseasonably warm that I'm riding to the light rail, but it's really dark in the morning. The owner showed me all sorts of rechargeable blinkies, and I bought a Knog Boomer. I also signed a petition to complain about building a new street with no bike lanes right next to two college campuses, UMB & MICA. Then I told the owner that I was planning on visiting the Washington Auto Show tomorrow, and being a bike person, she looked puzzled. When I told her I wanted to see the Leaf, she seemed satisfied.
Geoff Styles at Energy Collective went last week, and was impressed by the efficiency:
Last week I attended the media preview of the Washington Auto Show. ... I was pleased to find that the emphasis on fuel economy and technology in carmaker presentations was matched by a broad array of efficient and attractive new products. They still don't quite constitute the new car fleet needed for the 54 mile-per-gallon target the federal government requires them to meet by 2025, but in my opinion they're off to a very good start.
No one listening to the presentations I sat through last Thursday could have missed the shift in focus from previous years. Performance and drivability were still mentioned prominently, but in most cases the innovations allowing those attributes to be delivered along with improved fuel economy, instead of at its expense, received top billing.
“On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen.”
President Barack Obama offered the above quote at the auto show on January 31st, and spent his time looking at some American muscle cars, Mustang, Corvette, and at the new Ford Energi hybrids and EVs. One would think that was a wise move with elections looming - why give his opponents pictures of him with a foreign car? But the press found stories anyway.
The Washington Post fact-checked whether anyone really wanted to let the auto industry die, and Bloomberg spun the story into Obama snubbing foreign automakers. Bloomberg claims that someone on the white house staff asked the overseas firms to bring their most fuel-efficient vehicles to the show. So Obama didn't see the Honda FCX Clarity (natural gas), a Mercedes (fuel cell) and a Kia Optima (hybrid). As reported by Bloomberg and repeated by AutoNews:
Representatives of Honda, Kia Motors Corp., Mercedes-Benz and other automakers waited in a "bullpen" to be called upon to answer Obama's questions about their vehicles. None were, said Michael Stanton, CEO of the Association of Global Automakers.
"Many of our members bent over backwards to meet the request from the White House," Stanton said. "We were just terribly disappointed that the president refused to recognize the commitment that our members and others have made to the manufacturing base of the United States."
I'd chalk it up to a staffer making sure the Prez had plenty to see:
"I don't believe it was an intentional snub," said John O'Donnell, executive vice president of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, which organizes the Washington auto show. "I think he was checking up on the investment that he made from kind of fiduciary standpoint. He made the investment in the domestics."
But a few outlets followed Bloomberg with the cheap shot.
Anyway, with my new taillight, and advice on the best bike routes, I skipped the light rail, and rode home up a dedicated lane on The Fallways, the bikepath along Falls Road, and a dedicated lane on Roland Park Avenue. It took me an hour to ride ten miles (there was some walking) and I'm a bit saddle sore, but I plan to ride home as often as possible - so I don't have to buy a car.