Dwelling, as I do, in one of the more bucolic corners of the Northeast, and frequently a pedestrian or bicyclist, it had never occurred to me to worry about the possibility of being sideswiped (or worse) by an automobile that -- despite my having normal (albeit age-adjusted) hearing -- I could not have heard coming.
No doubt big-city denizens are already familiar with -- even blasé about -- this scarifying aspect of the modern electric-car era. Presumably, our recent forebearers had to adjust to it when the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company unleashed a fleet of electric taxis on the streets of New York City in 1897, shortly before Wood’s Electric Phaeton became available to any adventurous consumer with $2000. Such relative quietude was, however, soon to be shattered by Mr. Ford’s Model T.
In sum, this silent menace is yet another unanticipated side-effect of 21st Century technology, providing grist for the ever-grinding propaganda mills of global-climate-change deniers and further encouraging the few remaining die-hard Luddites.
For a solution to the problem, see the New York Times piece which triggered this post, at: http://www.nytimes.com/projects/magazine/ideas/2009/#a