Skip to main content

The building of charging infrastructure on pavements can negatively affect pedestrian areas and disincentivise walking and wheeling. This risks countering the Scottish Government’s ambitions to reduce private motor vehicle journeys and increase the number taken by more active forms of travel. Poor planning of on-street charging can cause a potential hazard for disabled people and wheelchair users, as these obstacles take up increasing amounts of pavement space.

The UK based climate charity Possible released Streetspace Invaders in May 2023, a report focusing on the positioning of charging infrastructure in London. The report reveals that as of October 2022, around four times as many EV chargepoints in London’s boroughs had been built on pavements as on kerb build-outs – 2,453 vs 620. It also highlights that EV chargepoints built on pavements can be hazardous for disabled users. As many as three quarters of chargepoint installations in some boroughs don’t meet the target of leaving at least two metres of clear footway width. With around 40% leaving less than the 1.5m specified in the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles’ guidance as an absolute minimum. 

Kerb build-outs are generally best practice for the installation of on-street EV charging infrastructure. By taking space from parking bays rather than pavements, they can help reduce private motor vehicle journeys and increase active travel. They also reduce pavement clutter and the potential hazard for wheelchair users or people with visual impairments. Those installing EV infrastructure may find it easier to build on pavements due to cost and logistical simplicity. However, doing so prioritises vehicles and their related infrastructure over more active and environmentally friendly forms of travel, which will have long term negative effects.  

Possible’s report highlights how few EV chargepoint installations – including those on kerb build-outs – are designed for disabled users. In their analysis of London’s charging infrastructure, they found almost none of the public EVCPs rolled out so far are accessible for disabled drivers. With the British Standards Institution’s introduction of PAS 1899:2022 in October 2022, installers now have clear guidance on designing and building EV charging solutions that meet the specific needs of disabled users. This standard lays out the need to consider such things as dropped kerbs, placement of bollards, and height of key components. 

The following two short case studies showcase examples of kerb buildout solutions on streets with narrow footways. In both, the footway remains clear even with the introduction of adjacent charging infrastructure. 

1. Installation in a conservation area

Heriot Row, Edinburgh 

ECC installed three 22kW fast chargepoints serving six bays and two 50kW rapid chargepoints serving two bays in this conservation area in Edinburgh. The council chose to incur additional costs by placing the feeder pillar at some distance from the chargepoints to avoid encroaching on the narrow footway. The parking bays were widened to three metres to allow disabled users to park with enough clearance to pass between the chargepoints and their vehicles.  

Rapid chargers’ large footprint makes them particularly unsuitable for placing on most pavements. 

2. Installation in an area with low on-street parking levels

York Road, North Berwick, East Lothian 

East Lothian Council installed two 7kW chargepoints alongside a narrow pavement in an area of North Berwick with low parking demand. This low parking demand removed the need for a traffic regulation order to mark the adjacent bays as EV only, reducing the administrative requirements of the installation. The kerb build-out itself forms a drop kerb. This, along with the clearance between the two chargepoints, allows disabled users easy access to the pavement from the road.