Canada is embarking on wide spread adoption of electric vehicles, (EV) as part of the countries commitment to meet global green house gas (GHG) reduction targets.. In fact, by 2035 all new vehicles will be electric.
It’s likely that curbside charging infrastructure will be introduced providing convenient access to the necessary infrastructure to support this fundamental shift.
However, CNIB would strongly suggest that as this infrastructure becomes common place that consideration be given to accessibility.
Regardless of how curbside charging stations are deployed, they should not create barriers for people living with sight loss or other disabilities.
Currently, the necessary infrastructure to support the exponential growth in EV usage within Canada lags far behind other developed countries. Closing the electric vehicle charging infrastructure gap. It is highly likely that within the coming years there will be tremendous growth in the numbers and availability of public EV charging stations.
It’s also extremely likely that some of the necessary charging infrastructure will be deployed in residential or retail commercial spaces. If this in deed does take place, then it’s essential that EV charging not create new barriers for people living with sight loss.
Our research, conducted in 2021/2022 found the following solutions. Some of these may not be applicable within the Canadian context due to climate but it is indicative of innovative approaches, which appear not to introduce new barriers for people living with sight loss or other disabilities.
Lamp post charging
The UK now offers Electric Vehicle (EV) owners comprehensive EV charging infrastructure that accommodates residents who do not have access to off street parking (driveways, garages). Siemens, a tech giant company and Ubitricity have converted 24 lampposts along 800m of Sutherland Avenue. The name of the project is ‘Electric Avenue W9’ and gives a glance of the future streets in Westminster (Cooper, 2020).
In May of 2023, the Transportation Association of Canada launched a project to explore and provide guideance to Canadian municipalities as to future considerations. The abstract for this project is taken directly from the TAC website.
Municipalities support vehicle electrification and have an interest in directly or indirectly removing barriers to electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Access to charging is one of several key EV barriers faced by individuals and families.
The EV charging ecosystem includes public curbside and off-street charging, private residential off-street charging, and off-street charging along intercity highways and at destinations. Curbside charging is most needed in downtowns and commercial areas, near multi-family dwellings, and in neighbourhoods with few private driveways; its provision involves multiple stakeholders and the balancing of multiple objectives.
Municipalities are independently developing practices around the provision and management of curbside EV charging, which competes for on-road space with cycling facilities, bus lanes, loading zones, restaurant patios, long-term residential parking, and short-term destination parking. They would benefit from a comprehensive review of Canadian needs and Canadian/international experiences, and from the identification and explanation of effective curbside charging practices suited to different contexts.
The project is scheduled to be completed late 2024 with guideance materials being the primary deliverable for the project.\
CNIB suggests that regardless of the findings and reccomendations that curbside charging infrastructure not be deployed in such a manner as to create barriers for people living with disabilities. Such barriers could include permitting residential charging stations to place a cable across sidewalks or to permit charging infrastructure to impede a clear path of travel.