STROOHM FAQ

Is a charging cable allowed to run over the sidewalk/pavement?

Is it allowed for a charging cable to run across the sidewalk?

The sight of a charging cable crossing the sidewalk is becoming increasingly common, a direct consequence of the growth in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, and the limited public charging options available right outside one’s doorstep. Charging at home is not always straightforward, especially if you don’t have your own parking space or garage. In Brussels, for example, only 12% of people have private parking or a garage. Simply running your cable out of the window and across the sidewalk may seem like the best option.

But is it allowed? 

Stroohm, as a specialist in electric vehicles and charging solutions, has investigated whether charging cables are currently allowed to cross the sidewalk. We posed this question to the Mobility and Police departments in Aalst, Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Hasselt, Leuven, and Mechelen, and we’ve come to the following conclusions.

The response from most cities is that placing cables on public property is prohibited. When asked about the legal framework for this prohibition, the first reference is the traffic code, specifically Article 7.2 and 7.3 (More specifically, Article 7.2 and 7.3 of the Belgian Road Code – https://wegcode.be/wetteksten/secties/kb/wegcode/104-art7):

7.2. Road users must behave on the public road in such a way that they do not cause inconvenience or danger to other road users,…” “7.3. It is prohibited to hinder or make traffic unsafe by throwing, placing, leaving, or dropping objects, litter, or substances on the public road,…”

BUT what if you use a safe cable trough for your cord across the sidewalk? In this case, you’re not causing inconvenience or danger, right? Washing a car also requires a garden hose and an extension cord for your vacuum cleaner across the sidewalk. Is that not allowed either, even with necessary precautions?

Police Regulations? 

In addition to the general federal road code, each municipality also has police regulations. These regulations describe, for example, whether you are allowed to mow your lawn on a Sunday, but they also state that any private use of public space is prohibited. The interpretation, however, depends on the exact description, which varies from one municipality to another:

Aalst:

“1st division: Wires, devices, and other connections, Article 132: Without prior written permission from the mayor, it is forbidden to install wires, devices, or other connections on the public road originating from private initiative.” => Very clearly formulated that it’s not allowed unless requested and permitted.

Antwerp:

“Art. 58. §1. Except with permission from the competent authority and without prejudice to legal and regulatory provisions on urban planning, the private use of public space above, at the level of, or below ground is prohibited, including by any attached, fixed, hung, laid, or left object,…” => Not allowed, unless requested and permitted.

Brussels:

“Art. 58. §1. Except with permission from the competent authority and without prejudice to legal and regulatory provisions on urban planning, the private use of public space above, at the level of, or below ground is prohibited, including by any attached, fixed, hung, laid, or left object,…” => Not allowed, unless requested and permitted.

Ghent:

“Article 3 3.1. Objects and devices that are placed on or over the public road without permission must be removed immediately on police orders or orders of the competent officer. If the order is not complied with, they will be removed at the expense and risk of their owners and/or users.” => Not allowed, unless requested and permitted.

Hasselt:

The article on private use of public space is limited (rightly) to “construction sites and works,” “terraces,” and “fences, advertising signs, and shop windows.” So, there’s no specific mention that it’s prohibited. => What’s not prohibited is allowed.

Leuven:

“Article 355 The sidewalks, the side verges, as well as the gutters, must always be kept clean, and free passage must be ensured,…” “Article 358 Private use of the public road is prohibited unless the College of Mayor and Aldermen issues a prior permit for this,…” => Not allowed, unless requested and permitted.

Mechelen:

“Article 111. Private use of public space is the use of public space, including the ground floor, the part above or below it, exclusively for private purposes, by which the occupied part of the road is removed from its public and normal destination.” => Unclear, as normal destination is maintained with a cable trough.

Conclusion 

Municipalities have not (yet) explicitly addressed the new phenomenon of charging vehicles in their police regulations. You automatically fall back on the prohibition of private use of public space. However, it’s crucial that you can apply for a permit from the municipality. We advise everyone to do so. By doing this, they can be made aware of the need to modernize the police regulations. We recommend working with a cable trough where it is allowed and to place it occasionally so it’s not considered a permanent structure.

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