Currently, there are a number of cars available to American consumers that are pure electric vehicles. They are small, slow and have a short range. Many of them are economically priced-- it wonít break the bank to purchase one. One in particular is very expensive. Link to CNN Article
However, one major issue currently sticks out: Most of the vehicles can go no faster than 25 mph. Once they exceed that speed, the amount of safety equipment and reinforcement required increases dramatically. This in turn, increases weight, increases costs, and prevents the vehicles from being marketable.
With gas prices spiking, itís not hard to imagine suburbanites flocking to these vehicles as a way to continue life in the suburbs and improve their cash flow. The problem I immediately realized is that with the superblock development pattern. In Arizona, most suburban (and city) arterials have minimum speed limits of 40mph or more. This can also be said for a multitude of places throughout the country. The high speed limit would prohibit electric vehicles from using the arterial roadways (law prevents these vehicles from being on high speed roads due to their construction/safety features). The electric cars become nothing more than glorified golf carts.
A complete overhaul of the suburban street pattern allowing increased alternative routes/connections between the superblocks, electric vehicle only lanes, and changes in the traffic laws to allow these vehicles on more roadways is needed. Also, safety laws and/or technology needs to dramatically improve to satisfy the needs of regulators and consumers.
Is it possible that communities, counties, regions, states, and the country can think ahead and plan rather than react? I feel we are at an incredible transition point in our history planned preventive measures in our transportation network could prevent a significant and extended period of economic malaise.