A new investigation from climate charity Possible has found that electric vehicle charging points are “invading pavements” with significant impacts on anyone walking, cycling or those with disabilities. Possible, and disabled cycling charity Wheels for Wellbeing, are calling on Active Travel England and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles to get them to agree on a common set of principles.
This would ensure that any newly built electric vehicle chargers would obstruct those walking or cycling, yet still remain accessible to all road users.
The research found that while London has made the most progress on public electric vehicle chargepoint installations of any UK region, there have been over 2500 standalone electric charge points installed on pavements in the capital.
This is despite it being explicitly recommended against in the Government’s national EV infrastructure strategy.
Transport for London advises people that EV chargepoints should be installed on kerb buildouts in parking spaces rather than on pavements.
However, data shows that London councils have installed four times as many EV chargepoints on pavements than they have in converted parking spaces so far.
It is estimated that around 300,000 EV chargepoints will be needed by the end of the decade to cope with the demand for zero emission vehicles and the impending ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles.
Leo Murray, co-director at Possible, said: “Our investigation reveals that space is being taken from pedestrians and given to private cars instead of the other way around.
“It is right that drivers without off-street parking are supported to switch to electric vehicles.
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“However, it is deeply ironic that we are paying councils to enable private cars to invade precious pavement space in the name of the environment.
“Ensuring active travel is a viable option for all is just as important for meeting climate targets as changing the way cars are fuelled, but to do that, we need to be removing clutter from footways, not adding to it.”
In a bid to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the Government has also published lofty goals for half of all short trips in towns and cities to be walked, wheeled or cycled by 2030.
This would require road space to be allocated away from private cards and towards active travel measures, including “de-cluttering pavements”.
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The report also unveiled that Government grants for councils to install EV chargers do not place any restrictions on where they can be presented, potentially taking away space from pedestrians.
Installing EV chargers on pavements can have profound impacts on those looking to walk or cycle, especially with the growing emphasis on using active travel methods.
Some see this as a double-edged sword with councils and the Government facing the prospect of missing out on targets relating to both active travel and electric vehicle chargers.
The report stated that for disabled people who do not use private vehicles, EV chargers are “just a new obstacle on the streetscape”.
Isabelle Clement, Director of Wheels for Wellbeing, said the investigation had uncovered a “new and totally avoidable access catastrophe”.
She added: “The rollout of EV chargepoints is welcome, but it’s fast eating away at footways across the capital, whilst simultaneously failing to provide accessible charging for disabled drivers.
“Disabled people already have to contend with poor-quality walking and wheeling environments including narrow pavements, cracked paving slabs, tree roots, street clutter, missing dropped kerbs and lack of tactile paving.
“Now councils are adding further access challenges by installing EV charging points on pavements. Once again, the Equality Act and the obligation not to disadvantage disabled people seems to have been ignored by the public bodies funding and delivering this infrastructure.
“We will support ATE and OLEZ in ending this practice and ensuring that the roll out of EV chargepoints brings progress and greener mobility for all, rather than further limiting disabled people’s mobility“
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