21 December 2009

Electric Cars in Amsterdam and Elsewhere

Amsterdam Traffic

This article from the NY Times about the emergence of electric cars highlights the problems and frustrations of electric cars being percieved as 'green' and of politicians who are keen to promote them.

A Pro-Bicycle City Faces Trouble Promoting Electric Cars

The article is interesting because we are on the cusp of the same issue here in Denmark, one of two countries along with Israel that is a testing ground for new electric cars and technology. I read the article with Copenhagen in mind.

"...now officials are trying to switch gears and mount an aggressive effort to encourage people to buy new electric cars. That jibes with this country's fight against global warming, but it is also warming the tempers among cyclists. They worry that their traditional right-of-way over cars will be sideswiped by more cars and more parking ramps.

The city council is giving free power to new electric car owners for the next two years and has agreed to pay half of the extra cost of purchasing plug-in vehicles, as compared to cheaper gasoline-powered models. The city might even carve out a reserved parking space with fuel access and front-door approach for new owners. That's a jackpot in this space-squeezed city."

Is this the beginning of the transport battle for Amsterdam? And other cities like Copenhagen? Will this be the greatest challenge bicycle planning has faced in established bicycle cultures for the past four decades?

I recall Adrienne from Change Your Life, Ride a Bike telling me about how her lobbying for bicycle lanes in her neighbourhood is not completely understood by her neighbours who offer up pearls like this: "Why do you want bike lanes?! We'll all have electric cars soon!"

Full article:

A Pro-Bicycle City Faces Trouble Promoting Electric Cars