The increase in electric charging points for cars is making it more difficult for disabled people to move around urban areas, a new report has found.
In a survey of more than 1,000 disabled people, it was found that “pavement clutter” in the form of new electric charging points, on-street dining areas and parked cars was making it harder to move around.
The report by Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, found that 41% of disabled people experience problems reaching their destination on a typical walking or wheelchair journey. This increased to 55% for those with mobility impairments or learning disabilities.
Some have pointed to the proliferation of new electric vehicle chargers as the reason for these difficulties, and have now called for better management of “pavement clutter”.
The findings come as the number of electric vehicle charging points grows, with Zap Map, which maps all electric chargers in the UK, putting the number at 37,851 chargers across 22,355 locations. This has grown from just more than 6,500 chargers in 2016.
Xavier Brice, the chief executive of Sustrans, said: “Putting disabled people at the centre of discussions about how we plan and create spaces where we can all move around easily and safely is vital.
“The UK Government must listen and take action to create places planned around people, not cars.”
The report also found that 73% of the 1,100 people surveyed said banning all pavement parking would help them walk or use wheelchairs more.
The report states that many respondents feared tripping or falling when attempting to navigate obstacles and parked cars, and were sometimes reluctant to leave their homes on days when councils collected bins.
Mr Brice said: “In 2020, the Department for Transport consulted on pavement parking. Three years later, nothing has changed.
“Everyone is equally entitled to rely on safe and inclusive pavements and now is the time to act.”
Among the other “pavement clutter” making journeys increasingly harder for disabled people were new alfresco dining areas. These were largely in place during the pandemic but have remained in some areas.
In the report, Sustrans makes several recommendations, including banning pavement parking and launching a long-term pavement fund to improve and maintain pavements.
Rachael Badger, director of performance and engagement at Motability, a national charity that supports disabled people, said: “It is vital that the voices of disabled people are heard when decisions are taken about infrastructure in their local areas, and that accessibility is made a priority.
“We are pleased to have supported this important research.”