Middlesex County

Cambridge launches pilot program to expand access to electric vehicle chargers

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Owning an electric car in the city can come with one major challenge — where do you charge it especially if you park on the street? Cambridge launched a pilot program that allows EV owners to charge their cars by running the power over the sidewalk.

Russell Keziere only has street parking outside his Cambridge condo. In Cambridge — EV owners can now charge their cars even when they are parked on the street as long as they have the approved equipment including an ADA-approved cable cover. “If someone comes along in a mobility device they are not going to be impeded,” Keziere explained.

Cambridge City Councilor Patty Nolan says she is fortunate to have off-street parking to charge her Chevy Volt but she wanted to help street parkers find a way to plug in. “We must make this happen for equity purposes and to meet any of the goals for EVs,” said Nolan. “We have been expanding our EV infrastructure on the streets but it is still not there.”

If you don’t live at street level, Cambridge says it also has a solution there. They are allowing people to install an approved swing arm that can run the power over the sidewalk and then down to your car. Cambridge says they require the swing arm to have a clearance of at least nine feet.

Officials also say there are more than 53 hundred electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the city. So far they have five requests for the sidewalk charging permits. The city says all of this equipment has to be clear from the sidewalk when you are not charging.

The state says it is working with several groups to better identify where charging stations are needed so these challenges can be addressed.  In a statement, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Spokesperson Maria Hardiman told us, “The Healey-Driscoll Administration is working collaboratively across state agencies to deploy electric vehicles swiftly and equitably. Neighborhoods with multifamily buildings and few garages will need unique infrastructure. Released in August, the state’s recent report on electric vehicle infrastructure identified a number of priorities for these communities, including curbside chargers with dense residential parking, placing charging cords under ADA ramps or fully under sidewalks, encouraging landlords to install EV chargers, and investing in mobile charging. Our administration will continue to work with the Legislature, municipalities, and community partners to implement these strategies.”

Boston currently doesn’t allow cords to run over the sidewalk for charging, but a city spokesperson says they’re evaluating the idea. “We want to encourage the transition to EVs while maintaining sidewalk accessibility and the availability of public parking spaces for all,” they said.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW