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Thoughts on disabled charging spots

  • 08-02-2023 2:43pm
    Registered Users Posts: 521 ✭✭✭

    I was looking at planning permission for a new charging location in NewcastleWest and noticed that one of the spaces is designated for disabled drivers. Given that chargers in busy locations can have queues or even be out of action what is the etiquette here? I've not seen this before - As an aside I think that all DC fast chargers have accessibility issues given the weight of the cables as well as positioning, kerbs etc. So I think that all chargers should be accessible.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,318 ✭✭✭✭ELM327

    As a person with a blue badge holder in the family, I think this is a ridiculous waste of finite resources. If chargers were everywhere then fine. But they arent.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,549 ✭✭✭zg3409

    There are a number of EV + disabled parking spaces.

    Ionity typically has a low ramp at one of their spots but not marked disabled.

    Really all parking spaces should have a charger these days. I suspect it's a clever architect maximising the number of available to all spaces by combining disabled + electric with the idea none will be used regularly so maximising the number of other spaces.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,803 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    Well this one usually generates some... robust debate to put it lightly

    Here are my thoughts on it

    Let's first consider the current situation with ICE cars. There are (to my knowledge) no designated petrol pumps for wheelchair users, the same pumps are used by everyone regardless of ability. However there is a sort of implied accessibility since there's usually a decent amount of space around the pumps, and they're low enough that someone in a wheelchair can reach them. Sometimes the shop staff will also be around to help if needed

    This isn't a great situation, but it sort of works and is apparently tolerable to society

    Now let's consider the EV world

    Personally, I think the idea of making charging available to everyone regardless of any disability they have is good and should be applauded

    However, the idea of making a dedicated accessible space for charging is a bad idea

    There's too many ambiguities at play. Is the space dedicated only for wheelchair users to charge, or can any blue badge holder use it, even if they have an ICE car? Is it a priority space for wheelchair users, meaning if all the other chargers are being used then it can be used by anyone?

    From the planning permission, there doesn't seem to be anything special about the space to make it easier for wheelchair users compared to the others

    So overall, good idea in principle, bad idea in practice

    FWIW, here's my thoughts on a better solution (which are utterly meaningless given this is an internet forum, but here we go anyway)

    At the absolute minimum, all DC chargers should be designed so they are accessible to all users, including people with reduced mobility. This doesn't just mean bigger spaces, but also designing the chargers for ease of use.

    Cable holding mechanisms, lowering the screen so you can see it from a wheelchair, simplified interfaces and payment methods should all be standard for DC chargers

    Ideally the same would extend to AC chargers, but car park operators don't like losing spaces to charging anyway so that probably wouldn't fly

    However, the accessible spaces should all have AC chargers installed at them. Doesn't need to be much, 11kW is probably sufficient for many use cases. But there should be confidence for blue badge holders that they can find a space and that it will have a charger available if needed

    So taking the example above, let's say the 4 charging spaces were DC charging, then the 4 accessible spaces would have AC chargers installed as well

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost

  • Registered Users Posts: 521 ✭✭✭VikingG

    Thanks for the considered thoughts - agree with the idea that all chargers should be accessible to all users rather than having specific charge points, however i dont have first hand experience of the challenges that some users may face.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,318 ✭✭✭✭ELM327

    We have a blue badge holder in the family, as I mentioned earlier. As a result, our main car has a blue badge.

    Thankfully it doesnt involve a wheelchair, but on bad days (intermittent long term mobility impairment) a rollator is needed. Luckily there's usually two of us in the car on very long trips while charging. If it wasnt, and the mrs (who has the mobility impairment) had to charge on a bad day when her mobility required the use of a rollator, there would be issues fitting between two cars parked at a busy FCP. Adding a disabled bay doesnt help that unless theres an additional gap between the cars.

    For me, the best accomodation for disabled drivers is actually to make all FCP spots accessible. Like Ionity do, except do it on all spots.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,679 ✭✭✭✭martingriff

    Maybe it's nothing more then they might think a blue badge driver may have an electric car and would need an accessible parking spot to get out of there car to use it

  • Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭[Deleted User]

    I am a blue badge holder myself, currently driving an ICE but would like to own an EV some day.

    Personally I think it would be better to have all EV charging spaces accessible as the default.

    Disabled drivers won't want to be left in the position where they have to going looking around for a specific wheelchair accessible space amongst the charging spaces that are available, only to find someone without a badge has taken the space ("I won't be long!") and there are no other accessible spaces.

    Just make them all accessible.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,418 ✭✭✭✭Alun

    I've seen the opposite situation in a small council run car park near me. There's a group of four car spaces, the rightmost two of which are marked as disabled spots, and there's a charger installed in the middle of the two disabled spots. So at a pinch depending on cable length and charge flap location, one car in the rightmost non-disabled spot might be able to use it, but he leftmost one certainly couldn't. Very strange.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,803 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    I've never measured it, but AFAIK most FCPs have similar spacing around them to a wheelchair space

    The problem is, that's probably not enough for most chargers

    Cable management becomes a big issue, if you have a thick 500A cable sitting on the ground between two cars then getting a rollator or wheelchair through there will be a massive PITA

    That's why I think you need a crane or something to hold the cable off the ground

    Putting the chargers on concrete plinths is also not helping. Looking at the old ESB FCP in Lusk, how on earth is anyone in a wheelchair supposed to access the charger? They'd have to go all the way around to the ramp, then somehow reach up high enough to see the screen and get to the RFID reader

    Hopefully the app is working that day, otherwise it'll be a world of hassle

    The new Applegreen chargers seem a bit better with ramps nearby and the chargers at road level, but probably still have the cable management issues

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost