Where is the best place to site an electric car charging station? 

That’s the question that city planners, shopping malls and parking garages all over the world have to answer as they try to support electric car owners keen to patronize local businesses in exchange for the ability to plug in.  

But recently, we’ve seen a number of examples of electric car charging stations sited in the worst possible places we can think of: handicapped parking spaces. 

In other words, making electric car drivers chose between plugging in their car or leaving a much-needed parking space open for a handicapped driver.

Take one parking garage we visited in central London recently.

On arrival at the garage, we spent a few minutes looking for a place to plug in, only to find that the charging stations were installed on a wall behind a row of parking spaces reserved specifically for handicapped motorists. 

We’re all for the installation of charging bays and charging stations so that electric car owners can charge while they’re parked, but taking up a space reserved for someone with limited mobility? That makes us feel a little, well, queasy.

MINI E in Public Parking Lot

MINI E in Public Parking Lot

Placing electric car charging bays in spaces previously reserved for handicapped drivers isn’t new either. Priority parking bays like handicapped spaces are generally sited in locations with good access to lifts or the exit. 

Because of their location, those spaces are also often the easiest places to site a charging station as they are normally close to power, a place to mount a charging post, and within sight of any security or parking attendants. 

In some circumstances, we’ve even seen a complete role swap take place, with spaces previously reserved for handicapped drivers removed and replaced with charging stations. 

But what’s the solution?  Obviously charging stations are needed in publicly accessible areas, but with careful planning they don’t have to be installed at the cost of handicapped drivers. 

If you’ve seen a dual purpose parking bay, let us know.  We think the practice of doubling up the use of a parking space in this way is wrong, and we’d like to find out just how widespread it really is.