When we examine the electric vehicle market and forecast electric vehicle growth, we often think of automaker plans, battery investments, how many models they’re rolling out, etc. What we don’t often consider is how strong city and country policies are going to get to push people to go electric. Several countries have announced plans for gas car bans, and some cities have done the same. Such policies can accelerate EV sales growth perhaps more than anything else.
One thing to note, however, is that long-off plans aren’t particularly scary or reliable. If your city or country is making a plan for 2040 and beyond, it’s probably pandering more than it is a useful plan that’s going to stimulate change. Much better than a target for one decade from now, in my humble opinion, is a decent policy that’s going to be implemented tomorrow (or soon).
On that topic, London has made a move. It has indicated that Beech Street will soon be a zero-emissions street, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Presuming this is approved by Transport for London (TfL), Beech Street will go emissions-free in the spring of this year. Unfortunately, it’s not yet a permanent plan. It is a pilot program that will run for 18 months, but then hopefully be implemented permanently.
It’s not the most aggressive policy in the world, but it is helpful in a number of ways. Most directly, this will improve air quality, noise levels, and overall quality of life on the street. It is also a great marketing tool — when people learn that there’s a full street in London that is only for zero-emissions vehicles and human-powered transport, electric vehicles all of a sudden gain a new prominence in the average person’s head and they may start to think, “Hmm, electric vehicles are becoming a big deal, maybe I should try one out.”
A press release from the City of London provides more: “Beech Street experiences high levels of air pollution as it is a busy, enclosed thoroughfare. A significant improvement in air quality is expected, resulting in health benefits for the many pedestrians and cyclists that use the street.
“The scheme aims to bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels within air quality guidelines set out by the European Union and World Health Organisation.
“The City Corporation also hopes to improve air quality in the vicinity of the street, particularly around the entrances to Richard Cloudesley School and Prior Weston Primary School. If deemed successful, the trial may be made permanent.”
“It will bring substantial health benefits to those who live and work in the Barbican area, and will also help reduce noise pollution,” Streets and Walkways Sub (Planning and Transportation) Committee Chairman Oliver Sells QC said.
“The experimental scheme will be enforced using the latest in smart camera technology and I hope it will be the first of many other schemes like this.”
Yes, indeed — let’s hope we can soon report on another zero-emissions street, and that cities in both the UK other countries learn about this plan. London does plan to turn parts of what is known as the “Square Mile” into zero-emissions zones by 2022.
Images by CleanTechnica and Google Maps