We’ve occasionally touched on how rising fuel prices will bring new, low-powered vehicles into the urban streetscape. All things being equal, I’ve always thought this would be a good thing. It certainly holds the promise of eroding the paradigm of speed dominance. It also won’t be realistic to create type-specific segregation for every kind of vehicle (I hope).
Unfortunately, all things are not equal. Products have manufacturers and manufacturers have lobbyists. Since certain NEVs fell into a gray area between human/animal powered vehicles and registered motor vehicles, the product manufacturers have had to lobby for access. The way industries lobby for access is to lobby for “regulation.” This includes both equipment standards and traffic statutes, which they helpfully write for the lawmakers.
Under encouragement from the USDOT, manufacturers of electric vehicles including neighborhood electric vehicles, golf carts, and Segways have been promoting legislation in states and municipalities that would prohibit various classes of “slow-moving vehicles” from roadways with maximum speed limits above 30 or 35 mph.
In California, the industry has lobbied for access to bike lanes on roads with speed limits greater than 35mph.
After you’ve pondered that for a moment, read this essay and open letter to the EV industry by Steve Goodridge.
Choices made by this industry could move our traffic culture toward a more integrated and equitable future, or take us all backwards 100 years.