Electric cars in bus lanes: Silent killers?

With no combustion engine, electric vehicles are much quieter than normal cars (Getty)
With no combustion engine, electric vehicles are much quieter than normal cars (Getty)

Cyclists are horrified at plans to let drivers of electric vehicles use bus lanes.

The idea is one of many revealed yesterday by Transport Minister Simon Bridges to get people out of gas-guzzlers and into clean, green e-cars.

But with no combustion engine, electric vehicles are much quieter.

"Allowing cars into the bus lanes provides a threat to the safety of people riding bikes, who use bus lanes as a de facto cycle lane when there is no safer alternative," says Leroy Beckett, Auckland director of youth lobby group Generation Zero.

Cyclists on Twitter were just as shocked.

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But Mr Bridges says it'll be up to councils and local transport agencies to decide whether to let electric vehicles use bus lanes.

"What we're doing -- and the Green Party's got this wrong -- is simply allowing this rule change," he told Paul Henry on Friday.

"Clearly the councils and the transport agencies are going to consult with communities, and let's see where we get to."

He says opening up bus lanes has been the "single most-effective non-financial incentive" to get people using e-cars overseas.

So far though, it's a more "do as I say" rather than "do as I do" for Mr Bridges, who is yet to get an electric car himself.

"I don't hate them… I am getting one," he insisted.

"The issue is there's probably only three or four [car yards that sell them]. I've been to Mitsi, I've been to Beamer, I've been to Audi. Yesterday, as you may have seen, I was in a Renault."

The Government's aim is to have 64,000 e-cars on the road by 2021. There are presently 1015, according to industry organisation Drive Electric.

The Greens have criticised the lack of financial incentives in the Government's package, but Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says it's up to consumers, not the Government, to make the switch.

"We don't want to subsidise them, we're not going to do that sort of stuff," she said on Paul Henry on Friday morning.

Auckland Transport said it has not yet developed a policy on allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes, and had no comment at this stage.