January 27, 2012

Discuss: Electric Car Charging Station Causes Traffic Problems

Parking is once again a top issue in Noe Valley, at least for one reader. The City installed an electric car charging station in Walgreens’ parking lot and not everyone is convinced it’s a good idea.
Curious about your thoughts about the electric vehicle charging station at Walgreens. I exchanged some email with the store manager, but am not sure where things stand. Here are my thoughts:
  • Kudos to Walgreens for supporting the environment!
  • According to store management, the space is open to all vehicles, electric or not. However, they ask that non-electric vehicles limit their time to 20 minutes (vs. the 60 minutes for other spots).
  • There are two problems, however: (1) There is no signage indicating that; and (2) the parking attendants do not seem to direct vehicles to use the spot even when there is a line into the street.
  • I suspect some believe it's illegal to park in the space if they don't drive an electric vehicle.
  • I asked Walgreens management to add signage to clarify appropriate usage for the space and to instruct the attendants to proactively guide cars to the spot when not otherwise in use. Given the limited parking in Noe Valley an under-utilized space is a bad thing, especially with the traffic and safety issues created by the periodic line onto Castro St.
The City is installing more than 80 such stations around the City, free for use if you need a top-off. The goal? “Reducing greenhouse emissions.” If the above letter is any indication, that may be tough.

Good luck with taking away car access of any kind in Noe Valley. Close a street to traffic? We know what happened there. Parklets? Negotiated with a net gain in parking spots. Whole Foods? Always a line of stopped traffic on 24th.

Ultimately, the trouble seems to be the number or cars coming into our little village, not the number of spaces available to them.

By the way, Noe Valley’s Walk Score? 86 out of 100 “Very Walkable.”


Anonymous said...

As the owner of an electric car, I find it relieving and extremely useful to have the charging station at Walgreens. There are hundreds of other parking spots in Noe Valley, but only one EV charger. I don't remember such anger when ZipCars took one of the Walgreens lot spots. Lighten up and let us EV drivers have ONE charger in the neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, because you know what San Francisco needs more of? Subsidies and perks for privileged rich folks like you.

Anonymous said...

I believe this may actually be part of an initiative on Walgreens part. A number of large retailers are installing charging stations nationwide.


There are some incentives;


Anonymous said...

I don't own an electric car but I don't consider a parking space for them to be charged for 1 hour to be for the privileged nor rich. These people are pioneers. There are average people who buy them too. I am happy to have them help us get away from using oil for a variety of reasons. Like all new technology - once/if proven, their cost will come down when sold in mass. The same for those who volunteer in drug trials, etc. This is how improvements are made for us all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing out the signage needs to be changed. I thought the spot was reserved only for electric cars and it often (mostly) goes unused while the queing takes place on Castro. Since the public negotiated the right to use this space for one hour free no matter whether they are at Walgreens or not, it is a good thing that the signage be made clearer.

I've never seen their parking attendant do anything to help move the cars in or out. That would be helpful too.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, the chargers at the Noe Valley and Taraval Walgreens were not done under the auspices of the City and County of San Francisco. They were part of a nationwide project being carried out by 350.green and Walgreens. You can read about it here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/10/20/BUSD1LK72I.DTL

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, folks dropping $35K on new high-status cars that can't be used for a commute. How could I think they're privileged rich folks?

Your average poverty-line person must be lining up for the chance to buy a Nissan Leaf. Because what's better than getting stuck on the side of the highway, unable to get your car restarted because the car's range was actually just 68 miles that day and AAA doesn't have an electric charge kit on their trucks?

Pioneers, my ass. You just want everyone else to pay for your expensive high-tech rich-people toys.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that they have a designated electric vehicle parking spot BUT it should be made clear that this spot is open for non-electric cars to use when available. (I assumed that it was off-limits.) Sometimes there's a Whole Foods-style line of cars trying to get into this tiny parking lot, so it needs all the parking it can offer.

Jeff said...

As an example, if it wasn't for early adapters embracing the early versions of the automobile, we'd still be riding horses on dirt roads and dodging horseshit while on foot. Oh wait, we're still dodging horseshit here. These are not toys. It's progress. Right now we are paying money to big oil companies and countries that hate us. There's your rich and priviledged.

Anonymous said...

Golly, how are we supposed to wean the automobile driving masses if all we do is give them free parking? What about bikes?

Anonymous said...

This is preposterous, first they take all the hitching posts out of the city, now they're installing electric car spots. What's next, taking away all land-based parking because of the flying cars? Insanity! Cities should never adapt to new technology, my carriage works just fine!

Anonymous said...

It's true--we need more environmentally sound options and EVs, hybrids, bikes and feet all are good ones. And, kudos to folks who are early adopters of new technology regardless of their economic status. We should keep in mind, though, that people adopt or don't adopt new technology for a wide variety of reasons.

And, while parts of Noe Valley are, indeed, very walkable, we also have some very steep hills. Not everyone can walk up and down those hills easily to do their shopping in the valley.

If this space were used with regularity, perhaps we wouldn't be having this discussion.

But, the vast majority of the times I've gone by Walgreen's either on foot or in my car, the space is empty while cars are lined up in the street with their engines running and wasting fuel. They also are creating safety hazards for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles alike.

Yes, it's only one spot out of hundreds, but it remains an underutilized resource due to the confusion and lack of a proactive management by Walgreens.

I'm not suggesting we get rid of the spot. In fact, we probably should have more. But, let's manage the resource properly so that it's used as much as possible and doesn't create downstream problems.

I believe that's not unreasonable.