Welcome to our new blog, The Ride To Zero with Executive Director, Josh Boone.
Veloz creates conversation, almost daily, with our members and stakeholders as we address the challenges, bust myths and open opportunities to meet California’s 100% electric vehicle sales goal by 2035. I will be regularly writing this blog to highlight these conversations, talk directly about the issues and facts and provide new information about the efforts to electrify transportation. Please find The Ride to Zero blog posts at www.veloz.org/blog.
From the beginning, Veloz has remained focused on inspiring people to go electric. To do this we must create pathways and opportunities to achieve Electric For All. This year one of our key initiatives is our 40 Million Reasons to Go Electric awareness campaign focused on overcoming key barriers of which equity is one of them.
Nowhere has the COVID-19 crisis been more devastating than in disadvantaged communities. Often these communities are home to our frontline workers who have no option but to be exposed and, in many cases, their homes are smaller with more occupants, making physical distancing nearly impossible. Even more harmful is the fact that disadvantaged communities have disproportionately borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution – they have more oil and gas refineries and car and heavy truck traffic than more affluent neighborhoods – and now there is evidence that these individuals are dying, not just of heart and lung disease, but COVID-19, at higher rates because of it.
Here’s the bottom line: when you stop driving gas-powered cars and trucks the effects are immediate. During the first month of the pandemic, studies show that fine particulate matter and NOx, a key smog-forming pollutant, dropped precipitously across the country and globe. In Los Angeles, NOx levels dropped 33% compared to the previous year. In Delhi, India, where air contaminants are normally off the charts, levels of both fine particulates and smog-forming gases fell more than 70%.
So…. drumroll please…It is past time to go electric. And that means Electric For All!
It is urgent that we ensure all people, especially those living in disadvantaged communities, have access to clean electric transportation and other forms of sustainable mobility (e.g., walking, biking, etc.). And we are never going to get to 100% electric if we don’t make electric transportation accessible and affordable for all.
That’s why Veloz is teaming up with local superheroes like Huron Mayor Rey Leon, founder of The Latino Equity Advocacy & Policy (LEAP) Institute, who launched Green Raiteros, an electric car ridesharing service. Rey says, “Huron has the most contaminated air in the nation. To fix it you have to fix transportation, which is at the root of social economic and environmental injustice. If you cannot travel safely, healthfully, economically and efficiently, you cannot escape the grind of poverty.”
Rey is starring in our Electric For All 40 Million Reasons to Go Electric campaign [see the Animation starring Rey and Mark Ruffalo]. He is relentless in his drive to electrify transportation and clean the air across California’s Central Valley. His city already has more electric vehicle chargers per capita than any city nationwide. Rey calls Huron the “greenest brown city in America.” Rey wants mayors across our state and country to join him. “Cities are the heartbeat of America – they are not red or blue, but they need to be green, and leading the electrification of transportation.”
[See Rey’s introduction of our campaign at the Clean Energy Inaugural Ball] And he keeps coming up with big ideas to electrify the Valley, create jobs, provide safe, free transportation and improve the Valley’s severe air pollution problem.
The barriers to electrification in disadvantaged communities are even greater than other communities and Veloz is committed to tearing them down. First there is cost. Even if electric cars are now becoming cost competitive with traditional gas cars, many people simply cannot afford a car, even a used one, period. Rey has a plan for that. In the next year, Rey and his colleagues will be performing transportation needs assessments in three different counties, as well as expanding their clean fleet to include more electric cars and three wheeled vehicles that provide low cost and free transportation. Veloz looks forward to continuing our partnership with Rey and others to realize and scale plans like these.
Veloz breaks down these barriers through awareness, education and collaboration. We use our unique alliance of public and private partners to tackle the tough issues. Our next collaboration is with Uber, Lyft, UC Davis, EVNoire, California Air Resources Board and rideshare drivers at our April 1 webinar, Jump on Board: How Electrifying Rideshares Helps Meet California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Goals. Rideshare networks play a key role in introducing electric vehicles to rideshare drivers and the passengers that share the ride, creating cost savings and bringing cleaner air to the most impacted communities.
Another barrier to electrification is lack of charging infrastructure. A top priority is easy and widely available electric car charging, including a streamlined permitting process. This is where local government comes in to prioritize charging infrastructure. And convenient, accessible charging is especially important for those who live in apartments and other types of multi-family housing units. Veloz members and board leaders are particularly well suited to take on this challenge. Join our April 29 webinar for a robust discussion on this topic: Permit Approved: Cities Leading the Electric Car Revolution.
Finally, there is lack of education and awareness and that’s where our annual Electric For All campaigns come in. We produce cutting edge content and employ state-of-the-art media channels to educate and engage consumers. And we invest at least one-third of our funds in outreach to engage people living in disadvantaged communities. We aim to work with local superheroes and Veloz members to identify and address the needs and barriers to electrification in these communities, and across the state.
It will take everyone to achieve Electric For All. I hope you will join us at Veloz to make it a reality!