Storm testified at yesterday evening's Indianapolis City-County Council Public Works committee meeting. City officials and representatives of Blue Indy, who were invited to address council members about concerns raised by Storm, failed to show up and defend the safety of the electric car sharing product. Storm noted that when he first inspected the power stations installed on Washington Street last year, he immediately noticed they lacked the UL stamp of approval which the city's code expressly requires. That led him to contact one of IPL's attorneys at Barnes & Thornburg, who passed along his concerns. When city officials learned of his concerns, rather than thank him for bringing the matter to their attention, he was met with an angry response. He was essentially told he was just bitter his patented product wasn't being utilized and to butt out because it was none of his business.
As word began circulating among members of the City-County Council after Councilor Christine Scales brought Storms' concerns to their attention, Storm was contacted and urged to go back and re-check the charging stations. He learned the original charging stations had been changed out; however, they still lacked the UL stamp of approval. Instead, a Canadian company had certified that the charging stations met standards equivalent to UL standards, which still doesn't meet the mandatory UL standard imposed by the city's code.
It's not just the charging stations that are a concern. Storm also learned the French-made electric vehicles have not been approved for highway use in the United States by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. The cars were only granted a temporary permit to be used in the U.S. for demonstration purposes under an import waiver. As it stands today, the vehicles cannot be used by the public unless an employee of Blue Indy accompanies the driver. They don't have passenger-side airbags. They don't have braking systems or bumpers that meet federal standards. The batteries used by the cars are yet to be tested and certified. Yet the Blue Indy cars have been on our city streets now for more than a year despite all of these shortcomings. Why? The public deserves answers, even if the administration lapdogs at the Indianapolis Star, IBJ and elsewhere think otherwise. Storm deserves a big thanks from the general public for coming forward as a government whistle blower.
UPDATED: Some Advance Indiana readers have complained that city officials have removed prime parking spaces at 54th and College Avenue along College Avenue to provide spaces for the Blue Indy cars. This area already has a severe shortage of parking spaces, and the wasted spaces for Blue Indy is only exacerbating those problems.