Ade Adepitan supports the campaign to make electric cars accessible to everyone
TV presenter and Paralympic gold medalist Ade Adepitan backed Auto Express’s call to action on electric car accessibility for disabled drivers, after shining the spotlight on a dire lack of charging stations public services accessible in the British network of nearly 30,000 people.
âIt’s a great campaign, and Auto Express is to be commended for adopting it,â says Adepitan, âAm I surprised by your findings? Absolutely not. As a person with a disability, and like most people in the disability world, I’m used to it.
Our report found a shocking lack of consideration of accessibility needs in the UK’s public charging network, with providers appearing in flagrant violation of the obligations of the Equality Act 2010 and the government lagging behind. legislation, with consultations only just beginning.
âIt’s really frustrating,â says Adepitan. âWhat it will take for things to change is when it matters to the people who are not directly benefiting from it. People with disabilities can scream until they have a blue face, but unfortunately we are not the majority and people tend to forget about us when planning. It is such an obvious oversight.
Adepitan has been driving an adapted Tesla Model S with manual controls since 2016. As an conservationist, he uses trains and his wheelchair as often as possible, but has racked up nearly 40,000 miles in his EV.
âI’m so lucky because I’m a really capable disabled person, but there are so many charging stations that are rubbish. I have sworn and sworn so many times; If I get too close to the charging station, I can’t open the door to get my chair out, and if I pull away, I’m too close to the car next to me. Other chargers are either too high and you can’t see the screen, or they’re in an awkward position for you to plug in the cables. Tesla charging points aren’t perfect, and I’ve seen a lot worse, but sometimes I need to wheelie on the sidewalk, or there’s no room for my chair. So yeah, I find that really frustrating.
As a committed environmentalist, Adepitan believes electric vehicles are the way to go, despite the obvious challenges. âThe only comfort is that I have an electric vehicle, which I’m happy to harm the environment less than an ICE car,â he says. âBut is the infrastructure perfect? Far from there. Does it work for the disabled community? Absolutely not.”
While it can be very difficult to get charged, Adepitan says it’s not impossible, and he is keen to encourage other disabled users to take the plunge. âIt’s inconvenient, but it’s like the public transport system, and the challenges are not new for people with disabilities,â he explains. âIt will be frustrating, and I don’t want to scare people away from electric vehicles, but this is where a lot [disabled people] are.
âWe need to get more people with disabilities to drive electric vehicles, and then when we have a lobby that’s strong enough, we have the power to say something about it. “
For things to change, Adepitan thinks everyone needs to be more aware, saying, âLook around and think, if I was in a wheelchair or if I had cerebral palsy or any sort of motor impairment, would i be able to use this?
âGod forbid, but any of us could become disabled tomorrow. And do you want to wait until you or a family member is in this position before you start kicking and screaming?
âYou have to start doing it now if we are to try to create a society where each of us can move and feel independent,â says the wheelchair basketball Paralympian.
Click here to check out our list of the best electric cars on sale right now …