EV charge points threaten UK active travel targets, warn charities

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Electric vehicle charge points in London are “invading pavements” and affecting walking and wheeling trips, a new investigation by climate charity Possible and disabled cycling charity Wheels for Wellbeing has found.

Titled ‘Streetspace Invaders’, the report reveals that there has been over 2,500 standalone electric charge points installed on pavements in the capital. This goes against the government’s national EV infrastructure strategy

It shows that London councils have installed four times as many EV charge points on pavements than they have in converted parking spaces, which is considered the ideal practice.

Possible argues that, since de-cluttering pavements is essential to promoting active travel, the practice is a setback in UK efforts to reach the target of half of all short trips in towns and cities to be walked, wheeled or cycled by 2030. For disabled people, electric vehicle charge points are just a new obstacle on the streetscape, said the charity.

Zag spoke with Leo Murray, Co-Director at Possible, who said: “Installing EV infrastructure makes it almost impossible to reallocate this road space to other modes in future, so planners have to be really careful to future proof any locations, in case, for instance, a protected cycle lane should have gone into that space instead.”

Public investment

This comes as the Government recently cut two-thirds of investment in infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling, from £308 million to £100 million for the next two years, while increasing budgets for on-street EV charge points.

Aiming for half a million public EV charge points to be installed by 2030 to meet drivers demands under net zero plans, the government has pressured local authorities to accelerate the rollout of charging infrastructure on UK streets.

As the report highlights, public funds to install public on-street EV charge points do not come with any conditions on where they are placed. This means that many local authorities are choosing to place them in pedestrian space instead of taking parking space away from cars.

Possible and Wheels for Wellbeing have written to the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OLEZ) and Active Travel England (ATE) calling on them to come together to agree on a set of common principles, especially the ones that receive public funds.

“The rollout of EV charge points is welcome, but it’s fast eating away at footways across the capital, whilst simultaneously failing to provide accessible charging for disabled drivers,” said Isabelle Clement, Director of Wheels for Wellbeing.

“We will support ATE and OLEZ in ending this practice and ensuring that the roll out of EV charge points brings progress and greener mobility for all, rather than further limiting disabled people’s mobility.“

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