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Electric vehicle chargers: Rapid charge points cluttering up Islington’s pavements ‘could cost blind pedestrians their independence’

PUBLISHED: 13:23 17 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:37 18 July 2018

Cllr Caroline Russell and Jane with the offending charger in Battledean Road. Picture: Meera Pattni

Cllr Caroline Russell and Jane with the offending charger in Battledean Road. Picture: Meera Pattni

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Rapid chargers for electric cars cluttering up Islington’s pavements could spell disaster for visually impaired people, a councillor has warned.

Cllr Caroline Russell and Jane with the offending charger in Battledean Road. Picture: Meera PattniCllr Caroline Russell and Jane with the offending charger in Battledean Road. Picture: Meera Pattni

Jane Howell, who is blind, lives in Battledean Road, Highbury, near two of the vehicle chargers and an electrical box that feeds them.

She says she didn’t realise the obstacles were being built until a neighbour warned her about them.

“I had no idea what they were,” she told the Gazette.

“I didn’t realise there was going to be this huge box that’s terribly in the way.”

Cllr Caroline Russell and Jane with the offending charger in Battledean Road. Picture: Meera PattniCllr Caroline Russell and Jane with the offending charger in Battledean Road. Picture: Meera Pattni

In Jane’s street, there is minimal space between a tree, the two vehicle charging points and the black box.

“If I go down the pavement and there’s another one I wouldn’t know,” she said. “It could be dangerous.”

She feels that, in a rush to be more environmentally friendly, the town hall has been putting chargers on pavements without thinking of the implications they could have for people like her.

Islington’s sole opposition councillor Caroline Russell asked Islington’s transport chief Cllr Claudia Webbe about the chargers at last week’s full council meeting.

In a written response, Cllr Webbe said the council wouldn’t ban chargers altogether from being built on pavements, but vowed: “I have instructed council officers to work with [vehicle charger designer] Source London to ensure all new EV charging points provide a wider clear footway width of 1.5meters.” Previous council guidelines were for at least 1.2m.

She added: “Council officers are also ensuring that all new rapid chargers are installed on build-outs in the carriageway unless there are special site circumstances.”

But a blanket ban on charging points being on the pavement would “significantly hamper the council’s ability to provide the infrastructure necessary to support the transition from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric vehicles,” she added.

Cllr Caroline Russell told the Gazette: “Jane does so much to get out and if this electric vehicle charging infrastructure is putting an obstacle in her way, it’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.”

Cllr Russell said she backed Cllr Webbe’s commitment to “pavement build-outs” – points where the pavement widens into the road to accommodate chargers as well as pedestrian crossing points – but that it didn’t go far enough.

The City of London has said rapid chargers within its walls can only be installed on pavement build-outs whereas Islington has said there will be exceptions.

So far about 40 chargers have been installed in Islington, out of a hoped-for 400 by 2022.

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