Letter to Brian Wallace, our state rep, on legalizing low-speed electric vehicles

Dear Brian:

I’m wondering if you are planning to come to the next Dorchester Heights Association meeting on November 11th. At the meeting, I will introduce Gretchen Folk, from Grow Boston Greener, who will provide us with information on the various tree planting programs in Boston. I met Gretchen through JP Trees, which is a Grow Boston Greener program.

One way to protect trees is to drive electric vehicles. This is the reason I love my 2002 Toyota Prius hybid. Technicians use my car every day to service our clients. As a company car, my Prius shows up everywhere, even on the Internet!

Although I love my Prius, what I really want is an electric car. Today, there are many low-speed electric cars that I could purchase for about $10,000.  Unfortunately, Massachusetts is one of only four states that do not allow them!  This is ironic, considering that in the 90’s, Massachusetts joined with California to require zero emissions vehicles. If these low-speed electric cars were street-legal, I would buy several of them and give them to our technicians so they could service our clients in South Boston, the South End, Dorchester and Roxbury.

Recently, a few plucky Massachusetts residents who did manage to register their Zapp electric cars as motorcycles (they have three wheels) were told to take them off the street or face arrest! (interview with Zapp owner) This led to a bill (HB5113) sponsored by Bradley H. Jones that would allow low-speed vehicles to be operated on roads with a posted speed of 30MPH or less. While this is better than nothing, it would be much better if they could be operated on roads with a posted speed of 35MPH or less, which was included in the language of a previous bill (HB4377). Of the 46 states that allow low-speed vehicles, all but four would allow low speed vehicles on roads with a 35MPH speed limit.

Since I am unfamiliar with the process, anything you can tell me about the status of these bills and when they might be expected to pass would be very helpful.


Susan Labandibar

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