Parkhurst gearing up for electric vehicles

The Johannesburg suburb of Parkhurst is taking a stride towards sustainability by becoming the first suburb to have charging points for electric cars and bicycles.

These charging points will be situated on Fourth Avenue.

Furthermore the suburb plans to establish cycle depots where residents can hire electric bicycles, drop them off at their destinations, and then collect another to return home. Thus enhancing the mobile green initiatives.

Nissan South Africa has come on board and earlier this month held an event for residents to test-drive its 100 percent-electric Nissan LEAF in Verity Park. This activity was in celebration of the Parkhurst village's Go-Green renewable energy initiatives, and it introduced the community to the new electric cars.

"As part of our Go-Green campaign we are planning a number of solar-powered, electric-vehicle charging points in the village. We want to encourage people to seriously look at electric cars and bicycles as an alternative means of transport. Most cars and bikes come with solar chargers, so load shedding will not be an issue," said the association's chairwoman, Cheryl Labuschagne.

The association is working closely with the City of Johannesburg, which is fully behind the plans, she said. Certain legal requirements for the charging stations have to be complied with, but these should be sorted out within a few weeks.

"We are also engaging with the city to bring proper public transport into the area. We currently have no bus service, but even when we had it, it stopped at 6pm. We have to become a 24-hour city. We also have to ensure we have proper pedestrian lanes for people to walk on if they use public transport," she said.

Labuschagne said the main problem was changing people's mindsets. "People are hesitant about electric cars and bicycles, but although the initial costs can be high, this will be offset by fuel savings," she said.

Ward councillor Tim Truluck has been testing electric bicycles for over six months, and says he loves it. In about five months he notched up 1 200km. "I ride everywhere. I attend council and counci lrelated meetings on my bike. I have seen, and experienced, the city in a whole new way. It has changed my life," he said.

"Even with electric bikes you still have to do a certain amount of pedalling. Also, Parkhurst is quite hilly, so the electric bikes are great. It is not nice to arrive at meetings in a sweat," Truluck added.

He said the city was installing 25km of cycle routes between Rosebank, Sandton, Parkhurst, Greenside, Victory Park and Melrose.

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