Edward Zwilling July 23, 2022
The U.S. Access Board is the federal agency charged with issuing accessibility guidelines under certain federal laws that prohibit disability discrimination, including the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act (home to Sections 504 and 508). While none of these laws specifically address electric vehicles at this time, existing accessibility standards certainly address many elements of electric vehicle charging stations already.
For example, the existing ADA and ABA Standard already address some of the following aspects of electric vehicle charging stations: floor and ground surfaces (§302), reach ranges (§305), operable parts (§308), accessible routes (§402), and also address signage and likely other aspects as well.
However, the maneuvering space required for a wheelchair user to exit a vehicle and access the charging station as well as connect the charger to the vehicle will vary greatly based on what side of the vehicle the wheelchair user exits from and where the vehicle’s charging port is located. As a result, the Access Board has recommended that dimensions for accessible vehicle charging spaces be substantially larger than typical accessible parking spaces. For example, a standard accessible parking space need only be 8 feet in width and 18 feet in depth (without reference to the adjacent access aisle). Electric vehicle charging spaces require greater width and depth and are recommended to be 11 feet in width and 20 feet in depth. Adjacent access aisles for such charging stations are required to be 5 feet in width but must also be 20 feet in depth (the entire depth of the vehicle space).
This diagram from the Access Board’s guidance best explains the reason for the additional space requirements for accessibility:
As noted by the Access Board with reference to the diagram above, the wheelchair user requires a width of 3 feet between the bollards/charging machine and the back of the vehicle to maneuver to reach the charging inlet of the vehicle when it is on the opposite side of the vehicle from the side the driver exits. This is the reason for the extra depth and width requirement of a vehicle charging space, as opposed to a vehicle parking space. The complete guidance is available on the Access Board’s website, located here: https://www.access-board.gov/ta/tad/ev/.
If you have any questions about accessibility standards or perceived architectural barriers to access in your neck of the woods, feel free to call or email me.