An exciting development in the world of electric vehicles this week. Govenor Jerry Brown has signed a bill allowing cities in Riverside County to allow LSVs on city streets with speed limits up to 45 mph. Check out the details in this article reprinted from PE.com.
10:16 PM PDT on Thursday, August 4, 2011
By JIM MILLER and DUG BEGLEY
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday that gives Riverside County and its cities the ability to allow smaller, slower electric vehicles on more roads.
The measure is the latest of several bills over the years that have carved out exceptions in parts of California to the statewide rule prohibiting neighborhood electric vehicles from roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or more.
Thursday's measure is by far the biggest in scope, making it possible that the electric vehicles -- sometimes referred to as "golf carts on steroids" -- will become much more common in the state's fourth-largest county.
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Paul Rodriguez with Urban Crossroads, demonstrates a street legal electric cart. The vehicles are sometimes referred to as “golf carts on steroids” Inland cities, notably Norco and Corona, include the neighborhood vehicles in city land-use decisions. Special lanes along some streets would allow the smaller, slower cars to travel alongside conventional automobiles.
Palm Desert and Beaumont have also embraced the smaller vehicles with specific plans for allowing them on city streets and special paths.
For now, local governments have the option to begin the necessary planning process and safety measures to allow the vehicles. Supporters of the bill say the vehicles are a convenient alternative to conventional cars and trucks and could help the region meet state targets for reducing emissions blamed for global warming.
"I don't know if we'll see a lot of them," said Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, the bill's author. "With the mandates being pushed down by the state and federal government, the state really has an obligation to give the county and cities in Riverside County the flexibility to meet some of those standards."
The Western Riverside Council of Governments sponsored the legislation. The agency conducted a four-city study in 2010 that evaluated how the vehicles could fit into the region's road network.
Rick Bishop, the agency's executive director, said he thinks those four cities -- Corona, Norco, Riverside and Moreno Valley -- will act on the law, with more possibly to follow.
"It's basically signage and road-striping. That's a minimal capital expenditure," Bishop said. "I think once it starts and we start to see some penetration...I could see it expanding. At least that's the hope."
Current state law bans the vehicles from driving on roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or more. Under Jeffries' bill, the vehicles would still be banned on roads where the speed limit tops 45 mph.
The all-electric vehicles can seat two to four passengers and, in most cases, have a top speed of 25 miles mph.
But sales to residents -- the vehicles start at $7,000 and with extras cost as much as $20,000 -- have been hard to come by. The Department of Motor Vehicles reports that there are 104,000 electric vehicles in the state, and that number includes freeway-worthy passenger cars. That is a fraction of the 32 million registered vehicles statewide.
Reach Jim Miller at 916-445-9973 or jmiller@PE.com