Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Electric Car?

Shift to more sustainable modes of transport

Bedford Borough Council in their Sustainability Appraisal of our proposed site in Riseley are very concerned that we will increase car usage because of the low frequency of public transport in Riseley. We can confirm that we will include electric car charging points in the garage and that we plan to get an electric car as part of this project. Below is a very interesting write up of an electric car and biodiesel car project in Taybont-on Usk
reproduced with permission from "Fresh from the Pan" www.prospectory.blogspot.com

In Talybont-on-Usk, we've just launched a 1 year long community research project to see if "doing something different" in relation to our cars and how we travel around will change our attitudes to owning and using cars, their environmental impact and our ingrained habits in relation to them.

The project involves 11 volunteer households sharing access to two "zero carbon" cars - one 100% electric and one 100% biodiesel. The trial group has the challenge of attempting to replace 10% of their personal car miles by booking and using one or other of the zero carbon cars. It also allows us to experiment with the practical and social challenges of sharing vehicles within a rural comunnity.

The electric car also challenges one's perception of "normal" driving - it's fun and quirky but it will only travel at around 30mph (and even less when it encounters one of our many hills) and it will only go about 30 miles before it needs recharging. If it's cold (as it certainly has been) and you put the heater on to keep warm, then the car will go even less far! It's an interesting experience to drive along with your accelerator pedal flat on the floor but only be doing 30 mph!

It makes you very aware of the energy required to transport ourselves a few miles to the shops - especially in a hilly area.

At the start of the project, we carried out a detailed survey of the 11 households taking part - the current cars they have, how they use them, what aspects of owning a car are most important to them (e.g. identity, independence, storage space) and how they think about the environmental impact of driving them. We are running the same survey with a control group of households and then repeating it with both groups in a year's time to see whether participation in the "Do something different" car trial has had an effect on people's attitudes to owning their own cars,how they use them and the energy they demand.


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