Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ontario in Fourth Place in Race to get Low Speed Electric Vehicles on Public Roads

O.k. so maybe this race is more like competitions where a bunch of excited kids line their frogs up around the outside of a circle and then whoop and holler and cheer them on excitedly while the frogs alternately do nothing, jump around in random directions and occasionally jump backwards. But then it is so thrilling when one of them finally jumps into the centre circle and a winner is declared!

If you're an LSV/NEV enthusiast like me and have been following the progress over the last year and a half that provincial governments across this country have been making in putting in place regulations to allow them on public roads then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. If not here is a somewhat rough snap shot of how the race is looking so far.

British Columbia started off by taking the lead being the first province to allow LSVs on public roads, but they are only allowed on roads with a max speed limit of 40km/hr. However municipalities can pass by-laws that allow them on roads up to 50km/hr. Oak Bay was the first to pass such a by-law and then Vancouver. Then the Manitoba Legislature passed its Kyoto bill that enables the government to make regulations allowing LSVs on public roads, but they're still working on the details. The specific regulations and when they would take effect have not been announced yet. Just days after Manitoba's announcement Quebec issued a press release that showed it leaping past the other two. It said they were beginning a 3 year pilot project and as of July 17, 2008 two makes of LSVs, the ZENN and the NEMO would be allowed on all public roads with a max speed limit of 50km/hr, though they included a clause that allows municipalities to opt out if they so desire. They also indicated that the pilot project was to fine tune the regulation of LSVs and they had no intention of taking them off the road after 3 years.

So now Ontario is finally showing some life and jumping into the fray, somewhat reluctantly it seems, and will allow the Zenn and other Low Speed Electric Vehicles/Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles on public roads. Tyler Hamilton passed along this news in his blog in early December. Check it out if you want more details.

The Ministry of Transportation indicates in their press release that they will introduce LSV regulations sometime this winter. I hope we'll hear something soon.

These regulations will most likely be based on recommendations made in the National Research Council report "Safe Integration of Electric Low Speed Vehicles on Ontario's Roads in Mixed Traffic". This is the report that Ontario commissioned earlier last year to give them a more thorough understanding of the technology and the history of these vehicles in the marketplace. The executive summary at the beginning of the report contains an impressively long list of the possible "risks" associated with allowing LSVs onto public roads. By their own admission many of these "risks" are hypothetical and not based on evidence from real world experience. From what I can see many are also based on questionable assumptions. I'll go through some of them in follow-up posts. If you want here's an old post on the safety debate.

Today, even though the government might slap a few paranoid restrictions on their use, I'm happy that Ontarians will finally be able to buy and drive neighbourhood electric vehicles! Yipee!

1 comment:

Kiwi Riverman - The Writer said...

Hope things are sorted out soon, Kristin. These cars are needed around town.