I once heard a theory that no one is disabled until people or society put obstacles in their way. It sounds simple, but it is perhaps a useful way to help understand what the world can look like from different angles.
Watching two wheelchair users tackle the myriad of ‘designed’ challenges during the first stop of our tour of Brighton and Hove Council EV charging facilities brought theory to the fore for me. The site consisted of a handful of compact street bays located on a steep slope, with terribly cramped sidewalks, steep curbs, and unmanageable loaders. “Accessible”, it was not.
There are around 26,000 public electric vehicle chargers in the UK today, with thousands more installed each year. We can’t tell you how many were installed in accessible parking spaces, as most of the network providers we interviewed couldn’t – or wouldn’t – tell us. Our experience and the evidence from the groups we spoke with suggests that this is barely a handful, and the problem for disabled drivers is compounded by a myriad of other issues around the design of charging devices and cars in the car. which you plug them into.
The tragedy is that we already know how to deal with disabled drivers. We have blue badges, wheelchair accessible cars, dedicated parking spaces, wide sidewalks with drop curbs, BSI standards for parking lot ticket machines, and trained service station staff to assist drivers who cannot pump fuel themselves. It now appears that in the race to build infrastructure to support the shift to electric cars, all of this knowledge and experience has been thrown out the window.
As the government begins a series of late consultations, we will also explore the accessibility challenges of moving to electric vehicles in the future. Our objective? Not to provide solutions, but if we can help keep the spotlight focused, we hope to play our part.
Check out our list of the best Motability cars on sale here …