California has historically been one of the most progressive states in the U.S. in terms of advancing technologies, particularly climate-affecting ones. With Silicon Valley serving as the hub of much of the world’s consumer tech innovation, the state has become an emblem of embracing game-changing inventions. While the electric skateboard isn’t likely to change the state of the world any time soon, it is now officially legal to use one on public streets in California, and is an additional signifier of the changing tides for electric transit in the state.
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill Sunday that reverses a 1977 ban on powered skateboards from being used on public streets, and anywhere bicycles are allowed. (In the 70’s, the skateboards were petrol-powered and noisy — their use was targeted by the ban that has now been deemed irrelevant.) The new law takes effect January 1, 2016, and was introduced in part because manufacturers of electric skateboards complained of their businesses sliding due to regulation banning their products on public roads.
The Wall Street Journal reports that London just reinstated a ban on the mode of transit, making it illegal to use a “hover-board” on sidewalks in England and Wales. (Many believe the term hover-board is a misnomer for electric skateboards because hover-boards are futuristic boards that actually hover above ground or water. Those items however, as of yet, have not been invented.)
But this small move in California to broaden electric transit is part of a bigger picture for the transportation scene in the state. The Golden State has traditionally embraced electric technologies, not the least of which is the car, to pave the way for climate-aiding change. California is committed to 1.5 million electric cars on the road by 2025 which targets an 80% reduction in carbon pollution from the transportation sector by 2050. In late September, the California Air Resources announced its continued devotion to a plan that aims to cut carbon content from fuels 10% by 2020. Reports have abounded over the years concluding that electric vehicle use can effectively lower greenhouse gas emissions, and California has aimed to be at the forefront of this technological promotion. Although not without encountering obstacles.
The most recent challenge for electric vehicle drivers in the state is the lack of plentiful charging stations — an ironic problem now because when electric vehicles came onto the scene, the market could not predict levels of adoption, and therefore many feared charging stations would become obsolete. The New York Times reports that Californians who drive electric cars are now fighting for charging spots in public lots, and that charging station company ChargePoint says there is one charging station per 10 electric vehicles. (15,000 in California and 33,000 across the country.) It’s not so easy being green.