Discover MELbility, the winning team of Lille Metropole’s Challenge: Put Europe in Your Projects!

Le 11/05/2022

Discover MELbility, the winning team of Lille Metropole’s Challenge: Put Europe in Your Projects!

MELbility led lobbying activities to make electric vehicle recharging infrastructures more accessible for people with disabilities. They worked with European parking and accessibility stakeholders and

Put Europe in Your Projects is a challenge launched in October 2021 that invites Lille Metropole agents to develop project ideas in line with the priorities of Lille Metropole’s and the EU priorities defined by the Von der Leyen Commission. MELbility decided to develop a lobbying project following one of the three categories of the challenge. The team is made of 5 members from 2 departments (mobilities and transports) and 3 units of Lille Metropole.

The starting point is a legislative problem in France, which requires that 100% of the parking spots equipped with charging stations for electric vehicles comply with accessibility standards for disabled people, with no derogation possible, whereas the creation of reserved parking spots for disabled people allows some. Most of the time, it leads to contradictions and standards conflicts. As far as charging stations are concerned, no percentage of accessible spots was defined, implying that 100% of these charging stations must be accessible without any derogation. This makes the establishment of charging stations more complex since lots of the parking spots in Lille Metropole (nearly 80%) benefit from derogations to be less large than expected. This is a severe obstacle to help develop accessible charging points, which are possible in only 20% of the parking spots in Lille Metropole. Thus, by forcing to provide spots that are unevenly distributed over the metropolitan territory, this regulation even diminishes the accessibility of the service to disabled people, by forcing them to park their electric cars away from their homes in order to find a parking spot that matches these standards.

In order to find a solution to this contradictory injunction, it is necessary to consider changes in the French legislation, either by reducing accessibility standards, which seems difficult to accept by disabled people's associations, or by widening the possibilities of derogation, in a spirit of proportionality. In the meantime, MELbility tried to get more information and good practices at the European level and to set off a lobbying strategy (for instance with the European Commission). The team’s goal is in particular to push forward a benchmark of European standards in terms of the layout

Discover MELbility, the winning team of Lille Metropole’s Challenge: Put Europe in Your Projects!

of parking spaces for disabled people. To gain more visibility and influence, the team was able to count on the European mobility network POLIS, of which Lille Metropole is a member. POLIS helped the team define a "lobbying strategy" and to identify other European cities facing similar difficulties, such as Gothenburg, Brussels or Berlin and these cities were interested in establishing a benchmark of European standards. In addition, the team was able to meet several other European actors:

* The European Disability Forum (EDF), which federates actions in the field of accessibility on a European scale, and in particular the implementation of a European disability card,

* Representatives of the European Commission, namely the Directorate-General for Social Affairs and Inclusion and the Directorate-General for Mobility.

At the same time, technical steps have been taken with the Public Space and Roads Direction to define technical solutions and increase the accessibility of charging points for electric vehicles. These solutions may be presented in subsequent working groups at national and European levels, always looking forward to guaranteeing better accessibility for disabled people to electric vehicle charging infrastructures.

Working at the European level is also the opportunity to support another issue, which concerns the European harmonisation of parking for disabled people at once. The 1998 European recommendation on European card models is not binding and technically outdated. The European card models developed by the member-states, including France, no longer correspond to the recommendation. Moreover, and this is a point to watch with the Carte Mobilité Inclusion which is being gradually deployed in France until 2026, the creation of national parking card files could open up the possibility of a better cross-border control of the parking cards validity, provided that these files are shared between cross-border countries.

Thanks to this initiative, MELbility was awarded the 1st prize of the challenge, which is a 2 to 3 day study and discovery trip to a European city in relation to the theme they developed. In fall 2022, the MELbility team is then going to Amsterdam, welcomed by the municipality and European units, to discover more innovative projects across Europe related to mobility, recharging infrastructures and accessibility!

If you are interested in the challenge Put Europe in Your Projects, you can find here the article about the presentation of the challenge!