TAKE ACTION: save Cambridge pavements from the electric car charging hazard

While many people were preparing Christmas dinners and celebrating the holidays, a little noticed draft traffic regulation order was published. It proposes ‘installation of parking places for electric vehicles‘ on several streets in Chesterton and Abbey, replacing some existing car parking spaces. This proposal seems innocuous, however on closer examination there are some key details missing, such as where exactly those chargers might be installed. As we know from other places, this can often mean big and intrusive obstacles being inserted into pavements.

car chargers in the footway
Examples of electric car chargers obstructing footways (photos by Robin Stott, Robert Davis & @hopefitch)

The draft order ‘statement of reasons‘ mentions that ‘footway width‘ will be a consideration, therefore it seems likely that the chargers will be installed into the pavement. This approach would be a very bad precedent, and would mean that our already beleaguered pavements would start to be blocked up by yet another piece of car infrastructure. We have found no evidence that the council has considered the impact this may have on disabled people, especially visually impaired people trying to walk on these footways.

In particular, the proposal for Riverside would see charging points installed into a very narrow footway along the river opposite Saxon Road. This would block a popular walking route, pushing even more people into the carriageway, and would further squeeze people walking and cycling on what is already a particularly narrow section of the busy riverside cycling route.

view of street where narrow footway ends, people walking and cycling on the carriageway
The view from the location of the proposed electric car parking spaces on Riverside (photo from CycleStreets)

Installing car chargers here would embed car parking infrastructure in a place that should really have car parking removed entirely to free up more space for people. The city should be looking to extend the existing riverside promenade further east, instead.

In other locations, it may be necessary and acceptable to have electric car chargers, but we must insist that the city not insert obstructions into pavements. Electric car chargers must be installed in the carriageway between car parking spaces, where they belong, and not in pavements. In general, the city should be seeking to remove car parking spaces to reduce traffic congestion and increase space for people, especially on busy and popular areas like Riverside.

car chargers in the road
Examples of electric car chargers installed in the carriageway (photos by @jecgrant, @RailWatch & @Govind0911)

Take action!

Please write an objection email citing reference number ‘PR0732’ to the e-mail addresses shown below, copying the local county councillors and us. The deadline is 31 January. You may use our suggested text for ideas:

To: policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

CC: alex.bulat@cambridgeshire.gov.uk, elisa.meschini@cambridgeshire.gov.uk, gerri.bird@cambridge.gov.uk, contact@camcycle.org.uk

Subject: Objection to proposed traffic regulation order PR0732

I am writing in objection to proposed traffic regulation order PR0732, the installation of electric car charging infrastructure alongside certain parking spaces on various streets.

  • The order appears to specify that the car charging points will be installed into pavements and footways. I object specifically to the installation of such obstacles into pavements and footways, because they create further obstruction for pedestrians.
  • If the car charging points are to be installed in the carriageway and not the pavement, then I would remove my objection in those cases except for the Riverside location.
  • The footway alongside Riverside near Saxon Road is too narrow already and forces people to walk in the carriageway. Car parking should be removed entirely from the Riverside location shown in the PR0732 drawings, in order to make more space for people walking and cycling along Riverside.
  • If the removal of car parking at the Riverside location cannot be accommodated by this order, then at least no additional car parking infrastructure should be installed there.