Electric Vehicles Conference 2018

Electric Vehicles a threat to Cities?

Conference Report

Are electric vehicles the solution to urban movement? Following presentations from leading 12 speakers, delegates at the UDG - London Living Streets conference held in London on 11 October went away in grave doubt.


Contribution of EVs in tackling the Challenge




Inactive Lifestyles – Obesity, CHD etc



Promoting walking



Promoting cycling



Road safety



Loneliness, Mental Health



Air pollution

Some improvement – but not a panacea



Some improvement at junctions (main noise source above 20mph is tyre noise)


Freeing up limited urban space

Increases competition



Adds to clutter


Obstruction of footways

EVs a potential problem


Limited natural resources

EV batteries a significant problem



Keynote speaker, Professor Frank Kelly, of Kings College London, and a world expert on air quality, listed the health impacts of polluted air, including short term effects seen as increased hospital admissions during periods of poor air quality, and long-term effects including reduced birthweights, and lung volumes in children exposed to persistently high levels of air pollution and in adults a range of conditions such as an increased risk of dementia.

The combustion of petrol and diesel, he explained, was by no means the only source of particulates.  Brakes, tyres, road wear and road-dust all contribute to particulate pollution.   Around 75 per cent of particulate matter pollution in Greater London is estimated to come from sources beyond its borders; conversely, only 18 per cent of London’s ambient NO2 comes from outside the city.

Other oresentations, include the RNIB on obstructed footways, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s use of existing lampposts to provide charging points to avoid introducing new clutter, TfL’s policies, potential for car sharing, parklets, and an objective engineering assessment of the impact of EVs with a view that the greenest infrastructure is the infrastructure that isn’t built. 

A surprise guest was Mr Ali, of the key precedent Ali vs Newham 2012 which clarifies the requirements of the Equality Act and the meaning of “due regard” under the Act as not a mere tick-box exercise but a robust inquiry before arriving at a decision. 

EVs will help to reduce air pollution, but this is only one of many problems faced by towns and cities, problems to which they make no contribution.  It is unfortunate that, while air quality has become a contested political issue, the other impacts of vehicle use have tended to be forgotten: the annual toll of death and injuries, the inactive lifestyles, the loss of freedom of children as parents restrict their mobility lest they should be killed or injured while out walking or cycling, and the prioritising of space for vehicles rather than for people.

There is a concern that the drive should be towards reducing car use, and that an uncontrolled rush to switch to EVs will merely increase society’s dependence on the car.

Presentations available to download

Session 1


Session 2

  • Designing Healthy Streets  EV Charge Points – Faith Martin – TfL
  • How Kensington & Chelsea has approached residential EV charging – Gary Noble - Chief Engineer Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
  • Can we take electric vehicles off streets and into car parks ? Julian O’Kelly, British Parking Associatio
  • Download first set 


  • ReCharge Parklets - Susan Claris, Arup
  • InclusivEV; new market for electric car sharing Charlotte Thiery Weetman, Programme Manager Electric Mobility, CENEX
  • EvInfrastructure Optimisation - Frederic Le Ballois : Blue Solutions and Source London
  • Download second set