Behind the Election Issue in May 2013: Electric Vehicles

In the City that Never Sleeps, people say so many kind and incisive things, especially when it comes to vehicles. We talk about a city that takes electric cars as seriously as bicycles, trucks, hybrids and even gas guzzlers. Recently, we were looking through my smartphone and saw an issue of The Evening Sun signed by Rick Jensen on March 16, 2013. This was about a green election in Baltimore that year: The mayoral race between a slate of “clean-air advocates,” Dick Simpson and Catherine Pugh. The other candidates included Republican Levon Manzie and independent Republican Dave Brinkley.

The headline at the bottom of the page read:

“EDUCATION CANDIDATES FOR THE PEOPLE”

In my opinion, which I freely express in this regard, that led to Simpson and Pugh being elected.

Jenson also called the voters “sincere and energetic” in the paper that very day. She’s the one who, eight years later, led the charge at City Hall to become the city’s first elected mayor who actually wants to get his feet wet on an environmental agenda. She wanted greener vehicles, cleaner trash-disposal receptacles and cleaner litter.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Ford Motor Co. was using the campaign coverage of The Baltimore Sun as an example of how electric vehicles can play a big role in addressing the environment and reducing CO2 emissions. Ford’s story included a plug for the Baltimore Sun’s editorial on moving the city to clean energy and reducing its carbon footprint. (Jonathon Scaglione) (Jonathon Scaglione)

The rest of her platform includes a planned transit village at Howard and Paca streets, a mass transit rapid bus system and, my favorite, electrifying the Enterprise parking lots at West University Parkway and north Charles Street, as well as more garage on Belair Road and over Howard Street. Smartly, of course, she plans to keep Ford’s Riverview Plant open with a new autonomous vehicle production line.

Would you like to have a downtown campus where trucks would come to pick up and drop off e-commerce orders from a hub? Rather than lug pallets of groceries to customers, it would be done by drone. No more loading and unloading. You would come to the studio, sit down at a PC and place an order. With the right ordinance for drone parking and other land use, the pop-up shops would not only be here, but grow into a real year-round site.

You can only imagine how much fun a tech hub, like Google’s planned new campus in Rosslyn, could be at this new development. Think about it. There would be all kinds of software engineers and data engineers working all day making sure this place runs smoothly and keeping the water clean. We’d get on with our day, turn in at our desks and hop on our bikes to walk from the office to the grocery store, the coffee shop, etc. We’d have to wake up early to set up those large battery-operated boxes on Charles Street for the e-commuters, but that’s for another day.

We have the brainpower, the entrepreneurs, the collaborators, the retail space and the mass transit connections.

Imagine what kind of innovation and entrepreneurship could come out of it. If we had simple battery storage, flexible transportation, lots of small property owners to lease to start new companies, young families from all over the world drawn to the new suburbs nearby, you’d have a virtual citywide development that could even transform the federal government.

Mayor Catherine Pugh has crafted a detailed vision of Baltimore that can help the city lead and control on building a greener, cleaner future for the region and the world. Many people agree that this can be done and hope the people who live here will join her in making this happen.

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