When we talk leadership in sustainable transportation, Indianapolis isn't often the first city that comes to mind. It is a city built for the car, and automobiles are at the very heart of Indy's history and culture. Carmel, just north of Indianapolis, has also made headlines in the Economist for having more traffic circles than any other city in America.
Yet interesting things have been happening in recent years.425-vehicle strong "Freedom Fleet" of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids for city employees. According to the Mayor's announcement, by the time all of these vehicles are on the road in 2015, it will be the largest plug-in municipal fleet of any city in the country by a factor of four.
The vehicles will be leased from California-based Vision Fleet Capital, and given that the price for maintenance is locked-in, the city is expecting to save $8.7 million compared to current costs and save over 2.2 million gallons of gas in the next ten years. By 2025, says Mayor Ballard, transportation for all city employees—except police pursuit vehicles—will be 100% electric.
Of course electric cars are by no means the answer by themselves. But what interests me about this latest development is how it complements Indianapolis' other efforts to rethink a car-dependent city's bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and also how the city's own fleet can help support an electric vehicle culture that includes car sharing and multi-modal transportation.
This is good stuff. Next time the Indianapolis 500 is in town, car enthusiasts will be exposed to some innovative new ways to think about transportation. They'll also get to see a 9MW solar farm right next to the racetrack too!