News of the week
Enter the era of trash bikes. A judge grants a Nevada toad a reprieve.
Instantly obsolete bicycles
When I was in my early twenties, I had a bike stolen. Over the next several weeks, I shopped around and wound up buying a Univega 10-speed. Other than the brakes not living up to my expectations (The bike that was stolen was a Motobecane, with Weinmann center-pull brakes, the best ever made for a modestly priced bike.), I loved that Univega bike.
At the time, I had recently moved to San Diego and enjoyed exploring my new town with the bike. For a while, I commuted to my job with it, too. I vacationed with the bike, riding it down the coast of California, from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. One summer, I rode it across France. It was a terrific bike, and I still have the frame, with the idea of fixing it back up one of these days. In all, I rode the bike for about 30 years. I think I got more than my money’s worth out of that bike.
But apparently, now, relying on a good, durable bike might become a thing of the past. Bicycle repairmen are finding bikes that, only after a few months of use, are rusting out, falling apart, and becoming unusable. As Nathan Proctor, in Streetsblog USA says of the new bicycles:
The metal is such poor quality that the frames crack and the threading erodes. Since they are not waterproofed at all, when they get wet, they easily rust. Repairpeople can’t replace non-standard or welded-on parts. Other parts are made to look adjustable, but actually are not. And you can’t always rely on a brand name: While some brands have good track records, other brands sell bicycles at a wide range of price points, and some of their lower-end models have inferior components or overall quality.
,A Denver repairperson says that these new bikes, under normal use, will only last about four months.
This is nothing at which to sneeze. An inexpensive bike from Amazon can be had for about $200.00. For a person making $15.00 an hour (Est. about $12.50 after taxes) $200.00 works out to be two full days’ wages, all for something that just winds up in the dumpster.
I think this news caught my eye and got me riled up because of its depressing irony. Bicycles are emblematic of eco-friendly transportation. Over the years, I estimate that my cycling for running errands and commuting averaged about 50 miles a week. Over 30 years that amounts to 78,000 miles that I was not driving a car. That we’ve turned bicycles into something disposable and wasteful just goes against the grain of the whole bicycle thing. (Streetsblog USA)
Last minute reprieve for a tiny desert toad
Just this past Tuesday, a federal judge halted the construction of a geothermal energy project in Nevada. The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed on December 16th by the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and the Center for Biological Diversity. The Tribe and the Center claim that the construction of the plant would dry up a hot springs wetland that is sacred to the the Tribe. The wetlands are also habitat for a number of species.
Among the creatures that live in the wetlands, called the Dixie Meadows, is the Dixie Valley toad. Only recognized as a distinct species since 2017, the Dixie Valley toad lives in a an area of only about 640 acres. To get some perspective, Central Park on the island of Manhattan occupies 843 acres.
In handing down his ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Clive Jones said, “There’s nothing that will tell us whether or not it will have an impact on the spring itself, let alone the tribes. I have substantial concerns.” Jones granted a 90-day preliminary injunction, halting the construction long enough for appeals to the project to work their way through the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision was handed down just two days before the bulldozers were set to commence the digging and construction of the project. After the appeals, the energy plant could still be built.
The geothermal project is the most recent of Ormat Technologies, a company out of Reno that already operates eight other geothermal plants in Nevada, including the state’s largest, the 160-megawatt McGinness Hills complex. The Bureau of Land Management had approved the project at the end of 2021, after six years of review.
The Dixie Valley Toad lives only in the wetlands of the Dixie Meadows in the Great Basin. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to grant the toad Endangered Species status in 2017. No final determination has yet been made by the U.S.F&WS for the toad. Things are dicey for other toads and amphibians. More than 41 percent of amphibian species are at risk of extinction.
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