full car outdoor parking in selective focus
29th June 2021

Improving the accessibility of electric vehicle charging points

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Urban Foresight is working to promote best practice in the delivery of EV charging infrastructure to meet the needs of drivers with disabilities.

With government ambitions to phase out of sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, the UK is at a critical phase of the development of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. However, to date the needs of EV drivers with disabilities have been given limited consideration.

There are currently over 14 million people in the UK with disabilities. By 2041, around 20.4 million UK residents will be aged over 65. At this point, 26 per cent of the UK’s total population will be more susceptible to a range of age-related health issues, including visual and muscular impairments.

In early 2021, Urban Foresight partnered with the Research Institute of Disabled Consumers (RiDC) to learn more about the challenges that people with disabilities face.

Our survey of over 700 people explored the challenges of  charging an EV using existing infrastructure, and the impact that this has on people’s confidence in driving an EV.

We found that only 25 per cent of people would currently consider buying an EV, rising to 61 per cent if charging infrastructure were made more accessible.

The following areas of concern were also highlighted by our survey:

  • 40.9 per cent felt that opening the socket whilst holding the cable would be either difficult or very difficult.
  • 66.0 per cent felt that space or trip hazards/barriers around the car and charger would be either difficult or very difficult to navigate.
  • 59.4 per cent felt that gathering up the cable and putting it back in the car would be either difficult or very difficult.

These issues can affect the confidence of drivers with disabilities, their ability to work, mental wellbeing, and ability to travel freely.

Mobility is the largest disability type, however stamina/breathing/fatigue and dexterity all present challenges with the EV charging process.

Urban Foresight is working to develop tools to enable people with disabilities to use existing EV charging infrastructure.

We are supporting the design of more accessible EV chargers and working with local councils and landowners to develop accessible charging hubs. We are also using our position at the intersection of various sectors to promote best practice from initial concept through to delivery of future infrastructure.

This includes several projects with partners including Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland, Duku, Dundee City Council, Plymouth City Council, and independent disability experts.

We are passionate advocates of the concept of Universal Design being integral to the design of chargepoints, hubs and on street charging options.

In this critical phase of designing and building EV networks for a low carbon future for all, it is also vital that industry strives to ensure that no-one is excluded from the transition to EVs.