Lincoln, California: A NEV-Friendly Community

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Lincoln, California: A NEV-Friendly Community

by Bennett Engineering, the City Of Lincoln, and LincolNEV

August 28, 2008

LINCOLN, California –While dependence on foreign oil, rising energy prices, and the threat of global warming continue to burden Americans, the City of Lincoln has embraced an alternative mode of transportation–the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV). A NEV is a fully-electric passenger car, designed to be used around town. While inexpensive to operate and earth-friendly, these little cars are also a lot of fun to drive!

In addition to saving money on gas and reducing pollution, NEVs benefit the community. When residents own a NEV, they tend to shop locally. This helps foster a sense of community. To encourage patronage by NEV owners, many Lincoln merchants even offer special parking and charging station outlets in commercial centers throughout town. Charging is easy and convenient, using a standard 110 Volt outlet.

NEVs have a top speed of 25 mph, and typically have a range of about 20-30 miles. NEVs are ideal for short local trips such as running errands, taking the kids to school, or visiting friends. According to a recent report to the legislature, NEV users average 15 trips per week (one-way), and the majority of trips are 6 miles or less.

The California Streets and Highways Code allows NEVs to travel on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 MPH or less. However, with higher-speed roads between residential areas and shopping areas, NEV transportation was historically confined, and impractical for daily driving. Groundbreaking legislation was passed (Assembly Bill 2353, and the subsequent AB 2963) allowing the cities of Lincoln and Rocklin the flexibility in planning for NEV use within city limits.

The City of Lincoln’s Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) Transportation Plan was adopted in 2006. Since that time, city engineers and consultants have begun work on city streets, such as Joiner Parkway–a major thoroughfare in Lincoln, to include new signage and striping for shared NEV/Bike lanes. The City plans to continue to expand NEV routes by adding striping and signage, and expects this will promote the use of NEVs throughout the City.

Of course, with any new transportation paradigm, safety is of utmost importance. Lincoln’s Police Chief, Brian Vizzusi, likes to point out that there hasn’t been an injury accident involving NEVs.

At first glance, many mistake NEVs for golf carts, but there are important differences. By law, NEVs must meet higher safety standards. NEVs must be equipped with: seat belts, headlights, rear/brake lights, side and rear view mirrors, safety-glass windshield, front and rear turn signals, rear reflectors, a horn, a parking brake, and a covered passenger compartment. Additionally, while golf carts are limited to two occupants, NEVs have no such restrictions, with models ranging from two to eight passengers. NEVs must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and NEV drivers must be insured and possess a valid driver’s license.

So who are buying NEVs? Studies estimate there are over 600 NEVs in the City of Lincoln, and that number is growing. Of course, the vehicles are tremendously popular in retirement areas such as the Sun City Lincoln Hills development. In fact, the enthusiasm for these vehicles is so high, that residents formed a club that currently boasts over 300 members. However, NEV use is hardly limited to retirement areas. Instead of waiting in an idling car for school to release, some parents have chosen to “spare the air”, and drive a NEV instead.

City Councilmember Kent Nakata states, “The City definitely promotes NEVs as a smart method of travel. NEVs are very beneficial in the reduction of pollution in our region.” Mr. Nakata also serves on the Placer County Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors.

A survey of NEV owners was conducted by the City of Lincoln in 2003. Applying recent data collected by Global Electric Motorcars, at projected buildout of 5000 NEVs, 2.5 tons of cold-start pollution per year will be eliminated.

Another result of the 2003 survey indicated the participants’ primary purpose of trips in NEVs are as follows: 54% of the trips taken were classified as leisure, 43% were for purposes such as trips to doctor, shopping, and bank errands, meaning trips of necessity; and 3% were designated as business or commuting.

While NEVs are environmentally friendly, they are also budget-friendly. NEVs require very little maintenance, and cost less to drive than a traditional car. In addition, insurance rates are typically much less expensive. Used NEVs start at around $3,000, and new vehicles can be purchased for as little as $6,250. Ryan Kugel, owner of Electrick Motorsports in Loomis explains, “With the cost of gas approaching $5 per gallon, people are looking for any way to reduce their consumption of gas, and one way to save is by purchasing a NEV. NEVs are great for short trips under 30 miles to local stores, parks, school or a friend’s house. NEVs also cost very little to maintain with a typical vehicle only being serviced once a year for $75. With the City of Lincoln investing in NEV-friendly roads, and local shopping centers installing free charging stations to accommodate these types of vehicles, it’s a great opportunity for people of Lincoln to take advantage of and have fun doing it.”

City officials would like to remind golf cart users to stay within the Golf Cart Transportation Plan in the Sun City Lincoln Hills development. Commercial centers within the Golf Cart Transportation Plan include the Safeway shopping center (but not Raley’s). The intent of the NEV plan is to provide safe routes throughout the City to accommodate licensed Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. NEVs are equipped using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, whereas golf carts are not. Please contact us at the Lincoln Public Works Department for more information by calling (916) 434-2450.

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