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Council Considers Return Of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

Neighborhood electric vehicle-flickr user miheco.jpg
Flickr user miheco

Neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV's), haven't been allowed on San Antonio side streets since 2006, but they could be making a comeback.

Several serious accidents - often times involving young drivers - prompted a ban of such vehicles, sometimes called low speed vehicles, by the San Antonio City Council. That was seven years ago, but new state laws require them to be licensed and registered and an amendment to the Transportation Code allows the vehicles to travel on roads with a posted speed of 45 miles per hour or less.

A push to bring them back is now stirring inside City Hall.

"So we feel like they're a safe, clean mode of transportation that should be available to San Antonio residents," said Mary Hammer, the director at the San Antonio Office of Sustainability.

She said that if the council says yes, the vehicles will be allowed on side streets, but only where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less.

Hammer explains why neighborhood electric vehicles could be useful:

"Taking your son to soccer practice, or even allowing your 16 year old to drive himself to let's say football practice, or his job, and get back home. And you know your child is not exceeding 25 miles per hour. Who else would use them? Anybody that wants no emissions or cheap, accessible transportation," Hammer said.

The San Antonio Disability Access Advisory Committee has endorsed the elimination of the city's ban on the vehicles. Hammer said that to her knowledge, San Antonio is the only city in Texas, and possibly the country, to ban them.

The public safety committee voted to send the issue to the full council.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.