Council still at odds over lowering speed limits to allow for electric cars

Drivers who get stuck behind someone doing less than 35 miles per hour on Edgewater Boulevard this week might find themselves honking at the mayor.

As part of an ongoing debate over whether to lower speed limits to make them accessible to small Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, Mayor Ron Cox said he plans to get out and do some driving himself to find out at what speed traffic typically flows.

On Dec. 18, the City Council voted 4-1, with Councilwoman Linda Koelling dissenting, to lower the speed limits on sections of Shell and Edgewater boulevards to encourage the use of the electric golf cartlike cars, a move that won the support of local environmentalists.

Since then, however, doubts have emerged, and the council is now set to consider reopening the issue at its Jan. 2 meeting. Councilwoman Pam Frisella said she had received e-mails from residents who didn’t want to give up the convenience of faster roads.

“People get worked up, I know because I get the e-mails saying ‘Don’t you people have better things to do,’” she said. “I feel like we’re kind of prematurely punishing the people who are trying to get in and out of town.”

Other than the NEV used by the Foster City Police Department for special events and patrols, Frisella said she knows of only one other such vehicle in the city.

The electric vehicles, which require a license, insurance and registration to drive, are allowed on streets with speeds up to 35 miles an hour, but travel at approximately 25 miles an hour. Foster City is already almost entirely accessible to NEVs because the city is relatively flat, compact and all but five stretches of road are 35 mph zones.

Cox says the lowered speeds and planned outreach would promote alternative energy.

“I love it, I think it’s a great idea,” Cox said. “I was thinking when I was paying $3.30 a gallon for gas that it would be nice to just jump in an electric car for running around town.”

But Frisella said commuters will not want to add any time to their morning drives.

“There’s no need to get people in an uproar over something that there might not be a need for,” she said.

The motion to rescind the earlier vote must be approved by four out of the five council members for any reconsideration to take place.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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