What are NZEV Zones and Why do they Matter?

 

green travel

Vehicles have come a long way since power steering and automatic transmissions were the newest exciting features. Now we have talking GPS systems… rear-view cameras… instant hovercraft capabilities (OK, just kidding about that last one).

Technology is changing the way we travel, and it’s important the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure adapts. Why not take advantage of innovations that allow for more efficient, and greener, modes of travel?

The latest technology to get a boost is Net Zero Emission Vehicles (NZEVs), also known as Low Speed Vehicles or Neighbourhood Vehicles. In a nutshell, NZEVs are four-wheeled electric powered vehicles built to travel 40 km/h or less. They are also one of the cleanest, most environmentally friendly types of vehicles on the market, but their design limits where they can be driven (ie. you’ll never see one on a freeway).

In March 2015, the ministry authorized a designated zone for NZEVs within the Nanoose Bay and Schooner Cove area on Vancouver Island, home of the golf resort community of Fairwinds. Locals will notice new road signs marking the start and end points of the zone. Gabriola Island received a designated NZEV zone in 2011.

NZEV map Nanoose

NZEVs can only be driven in these two designated zones under provincial jurisdiction, or on municipal roads with a speed limit of between 40 and 50 km/h, if authorized by a municipal bylaw. The following municipalities have established NZEV zones: Oak Bay, Qualicum Beach, Esquimalt, Colwood, Campbell River, Ucluelet and Tofino (it must be an “Island thing”).

What do I have to do to drive a NZEV?

There are a few guidelines for operating a NZEV in the new permit zone.

The vehicle must:

The driver must:

  • Abide by the regular rules of the road
  • Have a valid driver’s licence
  • Have a NZEV road use permit from the local ministry district office in Nanaimo

Fore! Heads up: a golf cart is NOT an NZEV

Golf carts cannot be driven in the new permit zones because they lack some pretty key safety design standards, including:

  • Headlights
  • Turn signal lamps
  • Mirrors
  • Parking brake
  • Seatbelts

Golf carts are only permitted to cross a road that separates a golf course. Read ICBC’s summary of the rules around golf carts.

What is the future of NZEVs in B.C.? Will we eventually see them rolling through parks? Ports or ferry terminals? Maybe they have a place on university and college campuses? The ministry will continue to work with municipalities and industry stakeholders to explore other locations where NZEVs can fit in nicely as a clean and safe alternative, improving air quality and public health.

Interested in learning more about how technology is reducing transportation’s impact on the environment? Read about how CVSE’s Weigh2GoBC program.

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to What are NZEV Zones and Why do they Matter?

  1. Shirley Bays on May 23, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Every day I drive past a ridiculous road sign located in Nanoose Bay just as you go past Moorecroft Park heading towards Fairwinds.

    The sign shows a vehicle that looks exactly like – is, in fact, a golf cart, and indicates that one is allowed to drive NZEV vehicles (presumably like the one shown) once past the sign. Directly underneath this is another sign that shows EXACTLY the same vehicle with a black prohibition line across it. The only difference is the colour.

    The sign seems to state you can drive a large green golf cart but not a slightly smaller black one. I would post a photo if this site allowed me to. I have looked at your website which shows a similar sign with a different image plus an additional “No golf cart”, but this is not what our sign shows. This sign is confusing and distracting and seems to mean nothing at all. No-one I have talked to has ever seen an NZEV or knows what it is.

    • tranbceditor on June 1, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      Hi Shirley. This blog post explains that Net Zero Emission Vehicles (NZEVs) are four-wheeled electric powered vehicles built to travel 40 km/h or less. They kind of look like golf carts. They are also one of the cleanest, most environmentally friendly types of vehicles on the market, but their design limits where they can be driven (i.e. you won’t see them on the freeway).

      On the other hand, golf carts cannot be driven in the new permit zones because they lack some pretty key safety design standards, including: headlights, turn signal lamps, mirrors, parking brake and seat belts. The signs in the photo above show a NZEV (above in green, with doors and larger body) and a golf cart (below, black with no doors and smaller body). Since these vehicles look similar, we also included “NO GOLF CART” on the bottom sign to further differentiate the two. Does the sign you see look the same except for the “NO GOLF CART” portion?

    • tranbceditor on June 4, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      Hello Shirley,

      We spoke with the local area manager who apologized for any confusion. The top sign (which says NZEV ZONE BEGINS) indicates that you can use an NZEV vehicle (which meets the standards outlined for use). The sign below emphasizes that regular golf carts do not qualify as NZEVs and are not allowed on the road. NZEVs have proper lighting, turn signals etc., which make them legal for travel on the road. We hope that this helps!

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