With over 1 million electric vehicles on the road today, As electric vehicle charging stations become more common at multifamily and workplace properties, more parking managers are thinking about the best way to serve every visitor at their property. The new question: How do I ensure that my new charging stations are accessible to everyone who might use it?
The Americans with Disabilities Act “broadly protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in employment, access to State and local government services, places of public accommodation, transportation, and other important areas of American life.” Depending on your kind of business and parking situation, you may be required to provide a certain number of accessible parking spaces at your property.
Many parking and property managers are aware of ADA requirements for their existing properties, but what you may not know is that those requirements can change for properties that install commercial charging stations at accessible parking spaces. Since every jurisdiction is different, we recommend that you consult your local officials to ensure that your parking meets all the ADA requirements.
Planning Accessible Charging
If you live in a city or state that requires EV charging stations to be ADA-compliant, or if you’re planning for drivers who do require accessibility, you may need to ask officials about applicable accessibility laws. Here are three questions you may want to ask.
How will EV charging affect my ADA parking allocations?
Depending on your type of property and your local laws, installing new EV charging stations may change the number of required ADA-compliant parking spaces at your property. In some states, installing a charging station at a handicap space may (under the law) turn that space back into a non-handicap parking space.
What parking design changes will I need to make?
There are multiple rules for the size of an accessible parking space and its adjoining access aisle. Some jurisdictions allow wheel stops, while others do not. In some states, your charging station’s card reader or charging port cannot exceed a certain distance above the ground, so you may need to install a wall mount at the correct level, or place the pedestal on street level (not on a curb).
Will my planned charging stations affect access routes?
When looking at their parking design, some properties choose to install their charging stations next to or outside the parking space. That way, they know their spaces will remain the correct size for a vehicle. However, it’s important to remember that your charging cords must not block accessible routes or pedestrian walkways. After all, it may be difficult for someone using a wheelchair or stroller to use a sidewalk if it is blocked by a charging station. If your new charging stations are too close to an access ramp or a walkway, you may violate ADA rules.
There are many factors that go into finding the perfect location for your new electric vehicle charging stations. If you are planning to support EV drivers with disabilities at your property, you’ll want to consider ADA rules and your parking design first. For more information on federal compliancy, see the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center and the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy presentation on ADA best practices. Next, check your state and city’s rules on electric vehicles and ADA compliance. With thoughtful planning and parking design, you can have truly accessible EV charging at your property.