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Here follows a select few areas to consider when designing your infrastructure to be used by everyone.

  • Off-street bays may have bollards or other surface level bumpers immediately in front of chargepoints to protect them from collisions. Such protections can inadvertently block access to the chargepoint for those using wheelchairs or mobility aids by increasing the distance they must reach. Where the chargepoint is situated on a raised kerb or plinth, this presents an additional access challenge.

    You should consider introducing dropped kerbs and sufficient space between protection mediums and chargepoints when installing infrastructure to allow users to position themselves safely.

  • Your installations will require signage to direct road users needing to charge into the car park and from the car park to the dedicated electric vehicle charging bays, as well as beside the bays themselves. The design of signage indicating a chargepoint location differs between different chargepoint operators. The colours and styles used typically feature car imagery or sharp and contrasting colours, which is not always clear to follow. Efforts should be made to ensure that the location of a chargepoint is advertised as simply and as consistently as possible. You also need to ensure the signage at your chargepoints display clear instructions on how to use the equipment, details of restrictions and pricing. In areas with poor mobile connection drivers won’t be able to rely on online maps and guidance, making incorporating signage and directions for charging sites particularly critical in creating effective access.

    In recognition of these factors, Dundee city council is an example of one local authority that has already taken steps to ensure signage is consistent across its sites.

    Dedicated electric vehicle charging bays need to be marked out differently from standard bays, with a logo and/or text indicating their purpose in bright, hard to miss colours. In Scotland, green paint has typically been used to demarcate electric vehicle bays. You should consider painting the entire bay area to make them further stand out. Having a consistent approach that prioritises ease of identification may lessen electric vehicle driver anxiety and reduce the likelihood of non-EV drivers parking in these spaces. Particularly if you accompany this with enforcement mechanisms.

    For both signage and bay markings, you must give due attention to ensure you accommodate those with visual impairments and take all reasonable steps to allow for ease of identifying charging sites.

  • Direct interaction between a user and chargepoint equipment may present accessibility challenges. For example, some existing chargepoint designs have the user interface positioned towards the top of the unit, making it harder for those in a wheelchair to reach. This may prohibit them from paying via contactless methods or accessing other features. Older and less tech-savvy drivers may be less able to operate the chargepoint and make payments using a smartphone app. As such, you need to carefully consider the range of design options available and how well they suit different user groups.

    Charging cables can also present challenges to disabled users. You need to consider the process by which drivers use their own cables with untethered AC chargepoints. Often drivers will store this cable in the vehicle boot, you therefore need to ensure bays are designed with sufficient space to the vehicle rears to allow the chargepoint users to safely access them.

    Challenges are heightened with tethered rapid charging cables which require levels of strength and dexterity not everyone has. These cables need to be very robust any may have internal cooling requirements for electrical safety; this can make them heavy. Without sufficient length, this can also create significant cable tension, making them stiff and difficult to manoeuvre. However, if cables are too long then they may trail on the ground, making them dirty and unpleasant for wheelchair users to have to place on their lap when plugging and unplugging. Connecting may also require two hands, both exerting reasonable force, as drivers negotiate using port access flaps. Technical solutions are in development to reduce some of these challenges.

  • Unlike existing petrol and diesel forecourts, which in most cases are staffed, chargepoints are not typically supported by someone who can assist users. However, there may be greater opportunity at larger mobility hubs to facilitate in-person assistance, most likely from public transport staff.

    You should consider whether a dedicated staff resource to offer charging assistance is viable at sites you are developing. This is most feasible for chargepoints located at mobility hubs which include infrastructure requiring people to be present. These are likely to mainly be in denser urban areas. Forming partnerships with organisations co-located at these hubs may make this more feasible.

    CPOs commonly use an app to consolidate much of the user experience, including management of payments and for fault reporting or assistance requests. Users will often have to rely on this channel to access assistance. Operators also offer a telephone service to allow users to speak with support staff. You should look to implement as wide a range of customer support options as possible at your chargepoints to meet the variation in user requirements.

  • As drivers use a chargepoint, they will have to wait some time in a public location as their vehicle charges and spend some time outside their vehicle to initiate and finalise charging sessions. It is important that they can feel safe and comfortable while doing so.

    This point has been highlighted primarily from the experiences of women who have felt unsafe while using existing public chargepoints, particularly those in more isolated, quiet locations at night. This is also a consideration for those with disabilities who may take longer to charge and may be particularly vulnerable to poor weather. For instance, if they have difficulty holding a torch or umbrella while operating the kit.

    If you can co-locate your chargepoints with well-used amenities and provide accessible routes to these, drivers can have a warm, sheltered, and secure place to wait for their vehicle to charge, with staff on-site who may be able to offer any necessary support. Providing lighting, CCTV, and shelter both at the chargepoint and on routes to amenities can ensure that drivers feel safe to charge at any time of day while not being overly exposed to bad weather conditions.

  • Many of the aforementioned considerations are also relevant for on-street chargepoints. However, the proximity of the driver and their vehicle to the road for these installations will often restrict how many of this guide’s recommendations are possible relative to installations in a car park.

    If you are installing infrastructure at an on-street location, you need to ensure equipment doesn’t block pavements or other pedestrian routes. Being aware of issues with street furniture clutter, many chargepoint manufacturers are working on designs that minimise the volume of equipment situated above ground. Trailing cables, protective bollards and charging equipment that covers too much of the pedestrian space can be a nuisance and present a risk to those with visual impairments.

    Some electric vehicle drivers without access to an off-street location for charging have resorted to running cables between their home and adjacent on-street parking spaces. This can create a trip hazard for pedestrians on the pavements these cables cross. To remove the risk associated with free cables, cable gullies and cable protector or cover mats have been implemented in some on-street locations. The former solution submerges cables into the pavement, sometimes under a removable cover, so that the route remains accessible. The latter uses a typical ramp style covering, which both indicates the cable’s presence and mitigates the risk of people tripping over it.