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EV charger and handicapped parking

Discussion in 'Charging Standards and Infrastructure' started by PhilBa, May 24, 2013.

  1. PhilBa

    PhilBa Active Member

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    Today I was driving near a local institution and noticed 2 new Blink charger stations going in (both 30Amp so it's kind of a meh to me). They are installed but not operational yet. However one of the chargers was lower to the ground than the others so I took a closer look. It turns out the parking stall in front of the shorter charge station is designated as handicapped parking. I thought that fairly odd since the intersection of handicapped people and EV owners is likely to be very small. I think it's great that Blink is thinking about accessibility but maybe it's a bit premature? I bet this sits unused most of the time
     
  2. jaanton

    jaanton Roadster NA #1026

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    This seems to happen fairly often. I think it's a function of a conservative reading of the ADA (Disabilities act) that if charging stations are provided, some must be reserved and adapted for handicapped use. Blink in particular put a lot of effort into usability design - too bad they didn't put the same into functional design.
    I think it would be a better idea if all charge stations were also handicapped provisioned and large signage above to indicate they are there. A placement/deployment issue. I think in Sonoma, CA there are some charge stations which are signed to be either handicapped or charging. I worry that your average parking enforcement person wouldn't bother with complex parking conditions. When I was a student at Berkeley I parked on a Saturday and as I'm walking away my car was chalked and I ran after the parking enforcer person and pointed out the signed that Saturday was not timed - her response "Maybe I will not come back." I've also got warning notices for my Roadster while charging that I was in an electric car only place. Sigh.

    At least, my wife has a handicapped placard so I have once used a handicapped charging spot. I also have a friend who has a NEV (neighborhood EV) and a handicapped placard. That rare combination does exist.
     
  3. PhilBa

    PhilBa Active Member

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    Yeah, I suspected some such. I'm a little surprised they feel the need to provide exclusive access. That seems like an over zealous application of the law. I would think simply making all their chargers handicap accessible would be sufficient (and not handicap exclusive). The whole point of handicapped parking spots is to make it easy to access the store or building or whatever. It looks like just lowering the control panel is sufficient. As it is, they have essentially cut the number of available chargers in half (from 2 to 1). I'm going to keep an eye on this to see if it actually gets used for charging. I have suspicions there will be mostly HICEing going on if any use at all.

    I'm just waiting for the day that Tesla gets sued under the ADA for not providing exclusive supercharger slots.
     
  4. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    I actually have an Tesla and my fiancee has a disabled placard, so I would be able to use the aforementioned spaces.

    Making them all accessible is actually preferred by the people who advocated for the ADA; it's called "universal design". Blink should certainly have made all the chargers handicapped accessible, regardless of whether some of the spaces were marked handicapped-only. Their current implementation is not only an overly conservative reading of the ADA, it's a technicality-based reading rather than a "let's try to make things as good as possible for handicapped people" reading.

    The need for parking spaces which are disabled-placard-only arises in a very specific circumstance: with access to buildings where there is high demand and the parking spaces frequently fill up, so that non-disabled people frequently have to walk long distances from the parking spot to the building. You don't want to make disabled people do the same thing.

    If there aren't very many EVs, and you only have a few EV spots, it should often suffice to put the EV-only spaces near the front door next to the disabled-placard spaces, and to design the spaces with the extra wheelchair-unloading zone which disabled-placard spaces generally have. The small group of disabled people in EVs will happily use the EV spots regardless of whether they are marked with wheelchair symbols. On the rare occasion that the EV spots are full, they will move over to the nearby disabled spots and charge some other time.

    Now, if the EV spots are filling up routinely, you need to build more EV spots. And if you build so many EV spots that many of them are a long long way away from the front door, why *then* you need to have handicapped-only EV spots. I don't think this is an issue anywhere yet, though I'm sure someone will pop up and prove me wrong by describing an installation of 100 charging spots.

    Tesla should simply make all the supercharger stations handicapped accessible period -- "universal design". This means making sure someone who uses a wheelchair or cane can get in and out of the car while at a supercharger station. This isn't really very hard -- wide spacing between bays, arrange it so that the doors have clear space to open wide and aren't blocked when parked for charging.

    (At the moment, the passenger side is more important, because I know the Model S can't really be used by someone in a wheelchair solo. But the Model X probably will be adapted for the disabled, so it's going to be valuable to make sure the driver can get out too. I've seen some people with no use of their legs, but massive upper body strength, swing their wheelchairs out from behind the driver's seat and transfer into them.)

    Because the only service being provided by Tesla's Superchargers is, uh, charging, there is no particular need for Tesla to provide *exclusive* wheelchair access spots, because every spot is equally close to, uh, charging. However, if some of the spots are unusable for people in wheelchairs, *then* Tesla will have to start reserving some of the ones which are usable. Which is why they should all be usable, makes it much simpler.

    This does show that Tesla should be careful about advertising. If Tesla starts advertising that you can go to a particular restaurant at a Supercharger site while Supercharging, then they might start getting ADA lawsuits if the Supercharger spots have been located way the hell away from the restaurant entrance. Probably nobody will bother them as long as the walking (wheelchair-rolling) paths between the Superchargers and the restaurant entrance are accessible, though.
     
  5. PhilBa

    PhilBa Active Member

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    Thoughtful response. The issue for me is with Blink stations. I agree that it's just dumb to have two versions when the accessible one works just fine for non-handicapped people. But, there they are side by side - one accessible and one in-accessible (chuckle...).

    As to the SCs, I'm sure some one is out to thinking about collecting the reward money for turning them in. (yes, there are people that file ADA complaints for a living)
     
  6. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    Yes you are correct, there are two level 2 stations off of East Napa St. I do not have a problem with someone who is handicapped and has an EV using that spot. But most of the time I have looked to see who is using the level 2 handicapped spot it is someone with an ICE. They do not specify EV use only.
     

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