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Warning, long read... Summary at the end. ;)

So this past week I've been working on-site in central Milton Keynes, and using my Nissan Leaf to get in and out of work each day.

Overall, the experience has just shown me again why it's crazy these cars are not more popular, and that for a daily commuter drive, the Leaf, or indeed any electric car, seems the absolute ideal choice - fun, quick, clean, and easy.

The drive in for me is easy, I live only a about 10 to 15 Minutes drive away from central Milton Keynes in rush hour traffic. There is only one part of the drive which consistently has a queue of around half a mile, but with the way the Leaf will happily crawl along in traffic this is no big deal at all.

When I arrive, I scoot past the hunter-gatherers looking for premium spaces and plop my EV into a free, open, and reserved space. Using my £10 charge card I plug my vehicle in, and wander into the office, safe in the knowledge that when I return I'll have a full charge and be ready to go... THIS is practical motoring!

The commute and my daily lunchtime walks have highlighted several issues, which seem obvious to me as a motoring enthusiast and EV convert, but seem to have passed by the authorities in all their wisdom.

Most charge points are in premium locations - and NOT reserved for EVs. This is downright foolish. Unless EV owners get in first thing, these spaces are taken by ICE vehicles. This is perfectly legitimate as they pay a premium and park there. BUT this means stats will show EVs are not using the chargers, low demand, inadequate usage figures, more bad planning for the future.

EV only spaces are NOT enforced. This is possibly worse than the first point. Where I park there are four or so EV spaces. Most times I'm the only electric car parked there, and none of the petrol and diesel cars have EVER had tickets during the course of the week.

People are confused. Signage isn't great. It's clear enough, but people hate to think and will use any excuse to justify their lazy habits.

These points have been addressed by MK Council on twitter after I had a rant. Here's what the feedback mostly was:

Point 1) Charge points HAVE to be in prime locations and clearly visible. This is a mandate from central government so the councils etc can get their slice of the pie to pay for installs.

THIS IS STUPID. We have sat nav to tell us where to park, putting electric vehicle charging points in prime locations will ONLY cause friction (much like parent/child spaces) and increases demand for already in-demand spots. Put them in quieter areas, and the car-parks are utilised more effectively and profitably (no loss of premium rate spaces).

Point 2) They claim to enforce them, and the car park I use is apparently "private", but (co)-funded from government. I'll just leave that there, because they're not enforced so far as I can see.

Point 3) New signage is being planned including clearly painted EV only markings. This is good, but again it's STUPID this wasn't done in the first place, it's so obvious you need to clearly sign things. How is this not thought through?!

In addition, they again reiterated that more (50) spaces for EV charging only are coming to CMK. This is great in theory. BUT, possibly overkill, and if they end up in prime locations, only going to further ignite the anti-EV brigade, and who can blame them, taking away premium, paid for places for less than high demand, free, electric vehicle parking and charging. I'd be peed too!

Summary:

Milton Keynes is great for EV commuting, in spite of bad government and council planning and implementation. It should get better, it's bound to get more controversial.

Rush hour EV parking:

2013-09-23 08.52.16 HDR.jpg

EV only parking at lunch time:

2013-09-26 13.12.57.jpg
 

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Wow, that's a situation isn't it?

Am I right in thinking that the charge point in Premium pay locations are free to park if you're in an EV at any time?

Also, are they not reserved for EV only use between certain hours, outside of these hours they are free to use by non-EV with standard parking charges being applied?

If yes to the above, then I think the main issue is the non-enforcement of the EV only spaces. Obviously they can't make all the charging spaces EV only on day one, for the reasons you've stated, but it does allow them to expand the EV only spaces as the take up of EV vehicles increases - this of course would need to be carefully monitored in order to provide sufficient charging facilities for visitors to the shopping centre.

Maybe there should be an emergency overflow charge point(s) area consisting of a few spaces that are only accessible via centre management approval, this would then provide figures as to how many spaces need to be reserved for EV only.

So what is the situation if you can't park in an EV spot but can reach the charging point from a normal premium spot, would you have to pay parking charges?
 

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Wow, that's a situation isn't it?

Am I right in thinking that the charge point in Premium pay locations are free to park if you're in an EV at any time?
Yes. But this is very confusing and unclear, a cynic would say deliberately so, as EV owners may pay despite not having to.

Also, are they not reserved for EV only use between certain hours, outside of these hours they are free to use by non-EV with standard parking charges being applied?
The few spaces that are EV exclusive (which is only a few, not sure on the exact figure, maybe 10-15) around town are EV exclusive between (from memory) 7am - 6pm. I could have that wrong, but it covers key trading hours.

If yes to the above, then I think the main issue is the non-enforcement of the EV only spaces. Obviously they can't make all the charging spaces EV only on day one, for the reasons you've stated, but it does allow them to expand the EV only spaces as the take up of EV vehicles increases - this of course would need to be carefully monitored in order to provide sufficient charging facilities for visitors to the shopping centre.

Maybe there should be an emergency overflow charge point(s) area consisting of a few spaces that are only accessible via centre management approval, this would then provide figures as to how many spaces need to be reserved for EV only.
Sounds like an interesting solution, but spaces are quite limited and I'd imagine that with the time it's taken to figure out how to paint the spaces, installing access barriers/controls would take more time than it's worth. :D

The problem with the current situation is that they can't get an accurate scope on demand based on current usage, as most of the current spots cant be used most of the time.

So what is the situation if you can't park in an EV spot but can reach the charging point from a normal premium spot, would you have to pay parking charges?
No idea, I've been told EVs can technically park wherever they like for free (by the council on the phone), but this is NOT what any signage indicates. Not keen on being the first to try that one out! :D
 

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Is there any official uk.gov guide on parking charges for ev's? or perhaps a sticker to put in the cars screen to inform zealous wardens off? ;)
 

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Nope, wish it was that simple and joined up. You'd think with the tech they claim to use to get rule breakers they could use them for "positive enforcement", ie free congestion charge, parking places etc.
 

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At least your charge points work. Imagine doing all that to find the points not working. Don't come to stratford upon Avon
 

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I was pleasantly surprised to see that the council's chargers in York all have a sticker on them now saying that parking is free provided that the car is plugged in. Fair enough really, since we're paying to charge instead.
Paying for parking by the kWh rather than the hour is fine by me, especially when it's a perfectly reasonable 15p per kWh.
 

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I was pleasantly surprised to see that the council's chargers in York all have a sticker on them now saying that parking is free provided that the car is plugged in. Fair enough really, since we're paying to charge instead.
Paying for parking by the kWh rather than the hour is fine by me, especially when it's a perfectly reasonable 15p per kWh.
In Milton Keynes that would mean you're not paying the council whil being no choice but to pay Chargemaster (no choice of provider), which seems an "interesting" scenario at best.
 

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Paul. We are taking the volt to MK early on Sunday for some Xmas shopping. I don't have a charge master card. I assume there are premium ev points near John Lewis? So can we park in them for free if the volt is not plugged in? We don't own a type 1 type 2 cable so couldn't plug in anyway!

Just curious. I also wonder if the traffic wardens will know a Volt is an EV and not ticket it?

M
 

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Paul. We are taking the volt to MK early on Sunday for some Xmas shopping. I don't have a charge master card. I assume there are premium ev points near John Lewis? So can we park in them for free if the volt is not plugged in? We don't own a type 1 type 2 cable so couldn't plug in anyway!

Just curious. I also wonder if the traffic wardens will know a Volt is an EV and not ticket it?

M
There are still some 3 pin Chargemaster sockets you can plug the Chevrolet EVSE into, only £1.20 per hour ;) and you only have to load £20 onto. Chargemaster account to use the app, for which they will generously send you a lovely RFID card. ;D
 

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Paul. We are taking the volt to MK early on Sunday for some Xmas shopping. I don't have a charge master card. I assume there are premium ev points near John Lewis? So can we park in them for free if the volt is not plugged in? We don't own a type 1 type 2 cable so couldn't plug in anyway!

Just curious. I also wonder if the traffic wardens will know a Volt is an EV and not ticket it?

M
Send me a message (conversations, top right) and I'll send you some details for non-reserved parking.

I THINK all the 3 pins are gone now though, @Julian Thomas may be able to verify that.
 

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No, still plenty of 3 pins left - by Debenhams for example... If you fancy paying £7.20 to charge up...! ;)

Traffic wardens are pretty good at not ticketing Amperas and Volts, but even if they do ticket it's easy to get it cancelled.
 

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Paul. We are taking the volt to MK early on Sunday for some Xmas shopping. I don't have a charge master card. I assume there are premium ev points near John Lewis? So can we park in them for free if the volt is not plugged in? We don't own a type 1 type 2 cable so couldn't plug in anyway!

Just curious. I also wonder if the traffic wardens will know a Volt is an EV and not ticket it?

M
Why would you occupy an EV charging bay when you are not charging, that's pretty rude & IMO as bad as ICE'ing. I'll be charging & then moving to a normal space when it's done, weather or not I'm done shopping.
 

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Hi Mark

There are 170 spaces in Central MK which are for Electric Vehicles - some are shared with ICEs at certain times (e.g. Middle of the day). MK Council have taken the view that flooding CMK with posts & spaces will help incentivise EV uptake here, and it is definitely ok in there eyes to do this.

Those of us who live in MK with an EV are playing by their rules, whilst also being courteous to other EV drivers - if and when demand for charging increases, we'll do this less I'm sure - but as things stand it's extremely rare to see anyone plug in and pay Chargemaster money.

This does NOT apply to rapid chargers, which cannot be parked in front of unless you are charging.
 

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Why would you occupy an EV charging bay when you are not charging, that's pretty rude & IMO as bad as ICE'ing. I'll be charging & then moving to a normal space when it's done, weather or not I'm done shopping.
They're there to help encourage EV take-up and reduce local air pollution levels and not exclusively for charging EVs (aside from the relatively small number of "reserved" spaces). I know it's odd considering how far behind most places are with EVs and particularly their potential impact to reduce pollution in towns and cities, but that's what they do.

We have around 170 EV spaces, so there's more than enough for all EVs in town.

So please, do feel free to visit us in your EV and enjoy the free parking perks, it's much nicer than you bringing your dirty diesels and smelly petrol cars, thanks. ;) :D
 

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Why would you occupy an EV charging bay when you are not charging, that's pretty rude & IMO as bad as ICE'ing. I'll be charging & then moving to a normal space when it's done, weather or not I'm done shopping.
Leave a space in MK and move to another:confused: You have got to be joking, if you can find a space in the first place at this time of year (let alone an EV one) it is close to a miracle. 1st rule in MK, is once you are parked up you walk around the shopping centre and keep going back to the car, if you try to move you could spend ages looking for another space:(
 

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Leave a space in MK and move to another:confused: You have got to be joking, if you can find a space in the first place at this time of year (let alone an EV one) it is close to a miracle. 1st rule in MK, is once you are parked up you walk around the shopping centre and keep going back to the car, if you try to move you could spend ages looking for another space:(
And get there after 11am and you spend 2 hrs driving ever further out in circles to park. We usually get there before 9am pick a nice cheap parking spot and have a McDonald's breakfast waiting for the shops to open. M
 

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Paul. We are taking the volt to MK early on Sunday for some Xmas shopping. I don't have a charge master card. I assume there are premium ev points near John Lewis? So can we park in them for free if the volt is not plugged in? We don't own a type 1 type 2 cable so couldn't plug in anyway!

Just curious. I also wonder if the traffic wardens will know a Volt is an EV and not ticket it?

M
Closest free EV parking is at the Theatre by the broken Chargemaster rapid.
Otherwise park up outside Debenhams, if they're full then use slots either side of Home Retail Group HQ building.
 
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