of Electric Vehicles
on City Streets
Sat 10/07/2006 -
While drivers always love to see green lights, cities across the state are falling in love with "green" electric vehicles. "I think everybody is thinking more green, more energy conscious," said Earl Huebner with Columbia Par Car.
The Reedsburg-based company produces Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV's). Following a state law that was enacted earlier this year, nearly a dozen cities around Wisconsin have approved NEV's for local streets, including Reedsburg, Mout Horeb, Sauk City, and Green Bay. In those cities, NEV's, with a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour, can only drive on streets where the limit is 35 mph or less.
For a $3 electric charge, the golfcart-like vehicles get 200 miles... ten times the mileage of many cars.
Alder Austin King proposed an ordinance to allow the automobiles on Madison city streets. That got the attention of Madison Police Captain Cam McLay. "I thought well, let's get ahold of one of these things, take it for a test drive," said McLay.
Huebner delivered an NEV to McLay on Friday for a 10-day loan so he can study how safe the vehicles might be in Madison's traffic. "There is a balancing test that needs to occur, there is a great deal of congestion on city streets," said McLay, who likes the idea of an electric car. "What becomes a concern is when you have traffic going 30, 35, 40 miles per hour, and then you introduce a much smaller automobile that can only go 25."
Or imagine an NEV in the blind spot of a Metro bus trying to make a right turn or change lanes. "So we have to decide do we want to restrict it only to 25 mile per hours zones, or create NEV routes perhaps, there's a whole world of possiblity there."
McLay's findings over the next ten days would be forwarded to stakeholders and committees that will consider King's proposal. King said the common council could vote on it as soon as December.