The Colorado electric vehicle (EV) community is set to benefit from legislation that will fine gas-powered violators for parking in EV charging spaces. The penalty prescribed is $150 plus a $32 surcharge.
The bill, HB19-1298, recently passed the state congressional house and corresponding senate committee, and it now awaits a final vote in the Senate before signature by Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Once enacted, the Centennial State will join ten other states with similar laws, many of them with substantial financial penalties as well.
The legislative charge in Colorado is being led by local Tesla owners feeling especially impacted by the blocking incidents, nicknamed “ICEing” in reference to the internal combustion engines of the violators. Tesla owner, YouTuber, and President of the Denver Tesla Club, Sean Mitchell, took the community’s frustration with electric vehicle owners’ lack of options for dealing with ICEing directly to his local representatives and has been rallying for the case ever since. His efforts were backed by Margaret-Ann Leavitt, vice president of Denver-based National Car Charging, and both advocates were recently featured in a local paper highlighting both their cause and their coming legal victory.
Internet forums and social media are full of sightings where Superchargers are being blocked by ICE vehicles, some even maliciously as a statement against zero emissions cars overall. Given the benefit of the doubt, however, most instances of gas-powered vehicles blocking EV chargers are a matter of location, convenience, and in places without means of enforcement, unimpeded if a driver chooses to ignore the purpose of a charging location.
The legislation in Colorado doesn’t come without detractors. “This is a solution looking for a problem,” Tim Jackson, CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) representing 260 dealers in the state, was quoted as saying in The Colorado Sun article featuring the bill. He cited the EV chargers located in the CADA parking lot, noting that he could “count on one hand” the number of times an electric car wasn’t able to use them due to ICEing. He failed to mention, though, that the chargers on CADA’s property ban Tesla vehicles specifically from using them, which does not bode well for the association’s supposed neutrality on the issue.
Another argument made by an opposing legislator was the preference EVs would be given over other cars needing special parking treatment such as large vehicles. When smaller vehicles fill those spots despite reservation signs, the larger cars’ options are limited or eliminated from the immediate area. This comparison may be relevant when only focused on the issue of reserved parking space violations, but considering the miles-long distances between Supercharger/EV charger locations vs. locations for big cars to park, the larger vehicle issue doesn’t seem to align with the purpose of the bill at hand.
Tesla itself is aware of the ICEing problem and has recently been spotted testing its own countermeasures. In Taiwan, a member of the Tesla owner community posted a video of a ground lock that used camera-based identification for deactivation to ensure only Tesla vehicles could park in the space without damage. Tesla China was also seen testing a similar device using QR codes for deactivation.
Overall, the growing presence of electric vehicles throughout the US will continue to bring changes to the existing transportation industry as it adapts to their particular needs. As seen in this recent example in Colorado, advocacy may be necessary in cases where local government isn’t immediately aware of the changes needed, but the effort can prove worthwhile.