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Electric cars gain approval from council
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MONROE - Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) can be driven on Monroe streets.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an ordinance allowing the little cars on city streets, as required by Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT).

No one spoke for or against the ordinance at Tuesday's public hearing.

The DOT reviewed the ordinance and determined that more specific wording be added to identify exactly where along Wisconsin 69 NEVs will be able to cross.

NEVs will be able to travel within the city on any street, alley or highway, including Wis. 69 between Second and 30th streets, having a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less.

Drivers of NEVs can request additional information on approved city routes from city hall.

The ordinance defines the differences between golf carts and NEVs. NEVs have the safety equipment, lights, mirrors, brakes, windshields and seatbelts required of all licensed vehicles to drive on streets. They also must be able to travel at least 20 mph, but not more than 25 mph.

NEVs will not be able to venture out to the new Menards location along Wis. 69 north of Wis. 11/81, where the speed limit is 45 mph. Monroe Police Chief Fred Kelley said the state is unlikely to reduce the limit in that area.

However, NEVs may be able to reach the new Wal-Mart Supercenter farther west on Wis. 11, by crossing over the highway along Sixth Avenue West. That road doesn't actually intersect the highway. NEVs are not allowed on highways, but would be allowed to cross them at signaled light crossings.

NEVs ride with traffic, unlike bicycles, which travel alongside traffic, Kelley said. Traffic violations in an NEV will be the same as violations for cars.

NEVs are seen more in the southern states, but a number of Wisconsin cities have passed ordinances for the NEVs.

"Gas prices are part of it, but more so, I think, people are seeing them in other places and coming back here," Kelley said. "They are becoming more and more adopted up here." He said the NEV was "no more unsafe than mopeds and motorcycles."

An NEV meets the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for a low-speed vehicle. The vehicles have a vehicle identification number (VIN), and drivers must be licensed.