We’ll need many gallons of green paint and hundreds of new signs to make electric vehicle charging stations enforceable in Maryland under the latest proposal for a state-wide anti-ICEing law. Are EV charging station site hosts, local and state governments and the EV community up to the task?
Eight states have enacted anti-ICEing laws. They all require that the charging spots be designated in some manner in order to be enforceable. One state, Washington, requires “green pavement markings” in addition to signs to enforce their $124 penalty for violators.
A bill proposed in the 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly will also require green pavement markings in order to be enforced. HB 598, sponsored by Delegate Clarence Lam, is the sixth attempt at anti-ICEing legislation in Annapolis.
I have participated in efforts to get a statewide anti-ICEing law in Maryland since 2012 when Delegate Eric Luedtke introduced HB 108. In addition to many phone calls, meetings and letters, I have traveled to Annapolis on at least three occasions to testify in support of legislation as chronicled here in 2016 and here for 2017. What will it take to be successful this time?
At the local level, I have helped get two anti-ICEing ordinances passed – in Montgomery and Howard Counties. Does passing an anti-ICEing bill suddenly mean that the police will slap tickets on every gas guzzler blocking a charging station? Unfortunately, I’ve learned through experience that passing a law is simply the first small step. Getting enforceable signs posted is the difficult part that often goes unrealized.
Historically, standardized parking signs have proven to be an effective method of communicating where and when parking is restricted on streets and public parking facilities. At EV charging stations, signs should clearly state, “no parking except for electric vehicle charging.” If the signs are ignored, then scofflaws can often be dealt with under existing parking prohibition ordinances such as employed by the town of Ocean City. Private property owners can use existing trespass towing laws to tow unauthorized vehicles that block EV charging stations within established guidelines.
In July, I traveled more than 700 miles through the state of Washington in an electric car as part of a long trip that began from Maryland. Of nine charging stations that I visited in Washington, only two had both green pavement markings and official signs required to be enforceable under the Washington state anti-ICEing law passed in 2013. A few sites had the proper signs but no green paint. One charging site had green lines but the signs did not conform to the specification.
Green Paint and Signs
Is “green paint” helpful? I’d say that in essence it is a compliment to signage and thus has value. Is it necessary? That can be debated. Legislators say that the police want to have pavement markings for enforcement. However, other entities objected to the green paint markings when a similar anti-ICEing bill, HB 36, was proposed last year. The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) opposed the original draft in a letter saying that using green paint markings would violate the US Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) which states, “Markings shall be yellow, white, red, blue, or purple.”
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) wrote a letter last year pointing out the use of green pavement markings on public roadways could cause inconsistency if used for electric vehicles, adding, “If passed as written, HB 36 would not be in compliance with the MUTCD and could threaten the ability of MDOT’s State Highway Administration (SHA) to utilize federal funds on these particular components.”
Having attended many discussions and spoken with decision-makers, I’ve concluded that green paint may simply be inevitable if an anti-ICEing bill is going to pass in the Maryland legislature. Even if we disagree on green paint, I believe it’s important to move forward toward a common goal. If the concerned parties — site hosts, legislators, EV owners, etc. — focus on the larger task of getting signage posted and paint applied, then I believe Maryland can avoid Washington’s fate of having a relative low percentage of charging sites ending up being enforceable.
Here’s a map of Maryland’s public EV charging stations according to the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC). Sites that are “Enforcement Ready” with the proper signs and green markings will be identified in green. The rest will need someone to erect signs and/or paint the pavement with green markings.
Getting Maryland EV Charging Stations “Enforcement Ready”
Maryland may soon have the second-largest EV charging network in the US according to this article. We must commit to make a concerted effort to designate existing and future charging sites to be compliant with the prescriptions spelled out by legislators or else the law in Maryland will largely be moot like I found was the case in the state of Washington.
Follow @PlugInSites on Twitter for updates.