Lummi Island is more like Fidalgo, and Sammish than, say, Waldron. Because of the ferry we experience few of the inconveniences of islands not served by car ferries. The Whatcom Chief has been a virtual bridge to the mainland. The ferry makes the island attractive to a number of people who wouldn’t consider Waldron, Sinclair or Blakely, for example.
But what if we were forced into a situation with limited car ferry service? Could we deal with it? How would we deal with it?
It’s actually not so rare to find car free or limited car islands and communities around the world. You can verify this statement by viewing this website.
If there was limited car ferry service we would, as a natural result have limited vehicle use. For one reason, it would be harder to get gasoline. We could look to other ways to move around the island: shuttles, livery service, car share, ride sharing, hitchhiking, bikes, motorcycles, electric bikes, scooters, electric cars, Segways, by foot, etc.
For all of us it’s hard not to contemplate grabbing the keys and jumping in our personal auto and going about our business, filling the tank when we need to with not unreasonably priced fuel. But there are other ways we could get around if it were necessary.
Right now the county could designate Lummi Island as a golf cart zone so that street legal golf carts could be driven on our roads. Using golf carts and other neighborhood electric vehicles would be a great start to saving fuel and reducing the number of automobiles on the road. (A couple of us have made repeated requests to the County Council to look at this with no action so far: note in the comments section of this blog the recent back and forth between Mike Skehan and Barbara Brenner.
In 2010 the Washington legislature approved the use of golf carts on roads with speed limits of 25mph or less (the Lummi Island speed limit).
Here’s the ordinance passed by the city of Langley on Whidbey Island: Most of these ordinances require that golf carts be equipped with headlights, taillights, rear view mirrors and other safety equipment. Golf carts can be electric or gas powered. Obviously, in a reduced fuel environment electric power would be preferred.
Golf carts are modified to make them into Neighbor Electric Vehicles (NEV). Why golf carts? Golf carts are a relatively inexpensive way to begin. At $4 a gallon on golf cart dealer estimates that an electric golf cart gives you 200 mph based on the cost of recharging a cart. There are other benefits as well (which also apply to NEVs and full size electric cars): less maintenance, quiet, cheaper insurance, in most cases a lower initial investment than a gas powered car, easier to park.
Golf carts are not as comfortable as NEVs and electric cars. But, they could get you around the island and make a good transition vehicle.
Next: more about NEVs