Charging Spaces for People with Impaired Mobility

By Vicki Batty and David Waterworth

Charging spaces need to be made accessible for people with impaired mobility. Electric vehicles are much better for people who are less mobile or who use a walking stick, walking frame, or wheelchair. As EVs increase in use, we need to make at least one spot per location with enough width and depth for those who need to open a car door completely in order to exit. Also, there would need to be zero ground-level changes between the car and the charger. Australian Standards 2890.6, Clause 2.3 says a parking area must comprise a firm plane surface with a gradient not exceeding 1:40 in any direction; or 1:33 if a bituminous seal and area is outdoors.

These spots would be restricted to holders of disability parking permits. For example, two of the six AC chargers in the carpark at Redcliffe Hospital are big, wide, level spots.

Redcliffe Hospital charging space for person with impaired mobility.

Vicki Batty raised access to EV charging spots with Bruce Bromley, Managing Director of Equal Access Group, in July 2019. At the time he said, “At the moment there is no requirement to make charging stations accessible. It is probably something that needs to be lobbied with governments. It may also be worth raising with the Human Rights Commission.”

There are two sets of Australian standards for dimensions of car spaces — on road and off road. These cover a parallel park, angle park, perpendicular park, right side access for wheelchair, left side access for wheel chair, etc. The Australian Network on Disability’s Design for Dignity program has some information on this.

Life without Barriers is also working for access to things we all take for granted. EV charging needs to be one of these things.
It depends on the orientation of the car space, but these dimensions are a start. From the Australian Standards: 6 Clause 2.2. 2(a) states that a parallel disabled car park space size is required to be a minimum of 3200mm wide and 7800mm long.

Back in 2003, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which all governments & councils in Australia use, reckoned that 85% of cars in Australia were narrower than 1860mm, and thus said short-term parking where turnover is high needed to be a minimum width of 2700mm to allow the front door to be fully opened.

Many EV charging spots are quite narrow, even for the able-bodied, to negotiate with a modern EV — many of today’s EVs are wider than the 1860 mm or less assumed by MUTCD (2003). For example, a Tesla Model S is 2189mm wide (doors shut, side mirrors not folded — 1964mm folded), a Tesla Model X is 1999mm wide with mirrors folded, and a Model 3 is 1850mm wide with mirrors folded.

Since 2003, the “average car in Australia” has gotten wider. Queensland and other states have legislation that mandates the Accessibility rules of the Building Code of Australia for public buildings, and this may come into play for where some chargers are located (hospitals, shopping centres, council carparks, civic buildings, etc.).

Charging Spaces for People with Impaired Mobility

Canberra superchargers with adequate space.

AS2890.6 re Disability Permit Parking spots

Clause 2.2.2(a) says Parallel parking spaces are to be not less than 3200mm wide x 7800mm long.

Clause 2.2.2(b) says a shared area adjacent to the non-trafficked side of the dedicated parallel parking space is to be not less than 1600 mm wide by 7800 mm long.

AS2890.6, Clause 2.5 and AS1428.1-2009, Figure 24(A),(B),(C) say curb ramps are to be provided where required and the profile of curb ramps has also been changed in the standard.

It is time that the various lobby groups that support the disabled began to advocate for charging spaces that are big enough to allow safe charging for those all drivers and especially those who are mobility impaired.

Charging Spaces for People with Impaired Mobility

Canberra Superchargers with adequate space.

Vicki Batty taught physics and mathematics for a couple of years before getting into her desired career of computing. She thoroughly enjoyed working as a computer systems engineer. Vicki purchased in 2018. She chooses to drive an EV because it is fun, economical for a retired person who is responsible for leaving the planet in better shape for her grandchildren.


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