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Having owned an EV now for well over 2 years and having driven it all over the UK and to Scotland and Amsterdam I am only too aware of the fact that not only is the public charging network undeveloped but what is available is often not available to use because there is frequently an ICE (internal combustion engine, i.e. petrol/diesel) car parked in the EV charging bay. If you drive an EV and need to charge then being ICEd, as it is called, is not only annoying but it might be the difference between being able to get home or not!

So, it stands to reason then that owners of ICEs that park in EV bays are clearly in the wrong and they should not have parked there. True or false? As with many things in life, it isn't as simple as it seems.

Why don't we look at it from the ICE owner's point of view. There they are, parking spaces, EMPTY parking spaces. Parking spaces that are meant to be for EV charging yet in the months or years they have been using that car park they have never seen an EV parked there and charging. From their point of view the EV drivers are getting unfair treatment. Having parking spaces reserved for their use when they never use them. It makes sense to ICE drivers to park there as they do not understand the importance of an EV driver needing to be able to charge but even if they do then they often don't care. Why should they have to park somewhere else, or further from the entrance/exit every day when those spaces are empty? Anyway, if they don't park there someone else will.

Also from the site owner's perspective there is little incentive to keep them clear for EV drivers to charge. If they do then they will get constant grief having to regularly talk to ICE drivers who have parked there when they never see EVs charging themselves so how can they justify keeping them clear to ICE drivers? They can't.

This then is the reality of public EV charging today. If the business owner has installed charging then they are very unlikely to make any effort to keep the charging bays clear until there is some evidence that they will be used. This then is a catch-22 situation in a way. People will be put off buying EVs when they hear that it is difficult to charge and yet charging bays will not be kept clear by owners or respected by ICE drivers until there are enough EVs using the bays on a regular basis for them to clock that they are needed.

I am of course generalising. I know there are sites where the bays are kept clear by the site owners but it is hard work for them. Many drivers simply will not respect EV charging bays until they perceive a need to do so.

So, are they wrong to park in EV charging bays? If the signage is good and there are proper, official, restrictions in place then perhaps they are. But in a supermarket car park, motorway service area or many public car parks, where the signs are not clear or where there is no official and enforced regulation in place then can we blame people for not keeping EV charge bays clear?

I think all we can do for now is try to educate ICE drivers in as friendly way as possible as to why EV bays must be kept clear. It won't be easy or quick but I think that getting annoyed with them, arguing, or trying to take the law into your own hands by blocking or causing damage, especially when the law might even be on their side (e.g. where signs are inadequate or no bylaw exists) just serves to antagonise them and fuel the fire. Once an ICE driver has had an argument with an EV driver they may consider all EV drivers trouble and they might even then deliberately park in EV bays just out of spite. As EV pioneers we must be patient and accept that not everyone right now is as EV friendly as we are. It will take years to change attitude and opinion and we must do it as friends of ICE drivers... not enemies.

This is perhaps one of the hardest aspects of owning an EV right now... be a friend to the ICE driver, not an enemy, and they might then start to listen.
 

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A couple of months ago, I spoke to one of the wardens in Milton Keynes about this very point: ICE cars parked in EV re charging bays in spite of the advertised parking restrictions. He told me that yes, the rules were there....and parking would be FOC to electric cars if they were in the bays and plugged in...but that they weren't enforcing the parking rules just now (when I pointed to the Range Rover parked in the EV bay). Hardly an ad for a progressive, forward thinking society is it?
 

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Sadly in life not all human beings are reasonable or intelligent. Abuse of disabled / child bays is just one symptom. The creation of EV bays allows those unreasonable beings more creative ways to demonstrate their inability to read / follow signs or to signal their wish to be separated from the intelligent masses.

Patience is needed however as they clearly need help.

I do wonder however if reporting to Police could be considered as contravening a S59 ? This is the ticket you get for causing alarm or annoyance? Twice and the car gets towed away. Perhaps this might be a civilised way forward?.....
 

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I do wonder however if reporting to Police could be considered as contravening a S59 ? This is the ticket you get for causing alarm or annoyance? Twice and the car gets towed away. Perhaps this might be a civilised way forward?.....
There would need to be an element of driving involved though...
 

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@Graham Smith i did like your way of thinking though...

On another note, I believe councils have the necessary powers to issue tickets for parking in EV bays in their car parks, I've yet to hear of it happening though...
 

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Councils have the ability to issue a ticket for parking in an EV bay under local bylaws. From what I can see the notice is actually for parking and not being plugged in, so it would apply to an EV that is blocking the space. (Coincidentally I am looking at this right now, but that is at an ikea)

Private Car Park owners can issue a PCN under their own T&Cs for using the car park.

If it is an NCP there is normally a customer service number to call and they are very helpful. They cannot remove the car, but someone gets 'educated' the hardway!
 

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Really we need cars with more range, so you're not reliant on that particular parking space - because the idea of having charging for every EV doesn't scale.
 

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Asked a guy how many electric miles he gets out of his Ford Focus the other day. Looked a bit purplexed when I explained I thought he was a hybrid, in the end he decided to move on in order to get away from the weird electric car guy :D

Interesting I only find ICE'ing a problem at service stations where the EV charge points are the first spaces people see. Oxford services on the M40 springs to mind, whereas Warwick (N&S) have the spaces right in front of the building but manage to avoid being ICE'd.
 

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So, are they wrong to park in EV charging bays?
They can park in them if they like - and they don't mind me blocking them in for a couple of hours while I get a charge to get me home.

Also, if ICE's can block charging bays then I guess it's OK for us EV drivers to park at the Tesco petrol pumps when the car park is full?

Seems fair...
 

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I think car park owners are in general pretty smart people, and do not put in EV-only bays if they think they will end up having to turn away non-EV drivers because the standard spaces are full. This is why a lot of supercharger sites (in the US especially) have signs that read e.g. "30 minutes general parking" in the SC bays - the site owner has colocated their "very short stay" and their "EV charging" bays into the same physical space. Sometimes planning/zoning rules in the US dictate how many parking spaces a site must have so it is impossible for general spaces to be turned into EV-only ones.

Ultimately the right answer has to be "obey the signage". If the signage says the bays are reserved for vehicles that are charging, then no ICE (and no EV that isn't charging) should ever park there. If not (as is often the case) then ICE vehicles are allowed to park in them.

The Northampton SC has Tesla-branded signs that say something "60 minute general parking" on them from which I assume that an ICE can park in them for up to an hour if it wishes. On the other hand the new Hopwood Park SC signs say "Tesla Parking Only" which is pretty clear.
 

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It seems to depend on how well the EV charging bays are marked out, the ones at Baldock are just to the right of the disabled bays but are very clearly marked out so other drivers can clearly see they have a special purpose, the bays at Beaconsfield are adjacent to the Police patrol car bays and are well away from the entrance so are usually not blocked.
 

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I have yet to see a EV parking on a Petrol Pump whilst shopping in the Petrol/Diesel Garage - shop/mini supermarket, though it may happen on occasions. I have seen plenty of ICE cars doing it though, even when they are only getting the daily paper. Nobody seems to say anything to those drivers and there are no signs saying the space in front of the Pumps are for filling the car with Petrol/Diesel. Perhaps the difference is the number of petrol/diesel pumps and the small time it takes to fill a ICE car. Perhaps we need dedicated EV fuel stations; drive in, fill up, pay, drive off. Tesla's range of stations are moving towards this, except with the Tesla you pay up front in the price of the vehicle purchase.
 

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Very good points Paul... and certainly I can't hold an ICE driver to blame with poor signage -- for example a few ASDAs I've been too have a generic little circular sign and that's about it. NO warning about EV charging only, or hashed green spaces or similar. Conversely ICEing of ecotricity rapids has been rare IMO. Very clear signs/markings and people know restrictions are enforced. Most places lay in between. If I see poor signage, and icing, then I would take it up with site owner, not ice drivers.
 

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Well it's a problem for parent spaces... Try and get a car seat out without scraping the other car!

Disabled spaces... Try and get out of a car with a wheelchair or walking stick

EV spaces... Try and get home when you were counting on that top up charge.

There is a real chance for a petition on change.org here...

"Make it unlawful to park in a specially reserved bay if you do not fit the criteria"

Instant towable offence if the owner cannot be contacted.

A few testimonials from the victims and we'd certainly get a few hundred thousands signatures.

I'm not joking here, I've experienced the massive disruption and pain of all three types of parking bay being occupied by someone who shouldn't be there.

And to highlight how it has nothing to do with signage, see this picture!

 

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In MK the parking spaces at the Holiday Inn at Caldecott lake are always used as normal parking spaces - luckily MK has lots of charging points so I'm just avoiding this one.
For the picture, it's not very clear it's an EV bay, there seems to be a smallish sign in the bay, but normally they make it much more clear that it's not a normal parking space.
 
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