The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Parking in localities - A good idea from the local councils

Monday, 13 September 2021, 10:05 Last update: about 7 days ago

President of the Local Council’s Association Mario Fava told The Malta Independent on Sunday that the idea of multi-storey park-and-ride car parks at the periphery of localities around Malta is one of several sustainable urban projects being researched by the Local Council’s Association (LCA). Fava believes that for this vision to be enabled, the local plans must be amended.

This is an interesting idea, especially if the park-and-ride schemes are operated well. It could lead to less congestion in town and city cores, and would further allow for the pedestrianisation of such areas, perhaps only allowing park and ride vehicles, and buses to enter. 

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Of course this would not be easy to do for certain localities, where a main road passes through a city centre for example. It would also not be easy to do in areas where there just isn’t the space for such a parking complex. Perhaps some neighbouring localities can join together for one project covering both in such circumstances. 

One must point out however, that seeing multi-storey above ground car parks is never appealing, so where possible building underground is probably the best way forward in this regard. 

Fava argued that though both the LCA and the government have already started encouraging a shift away from car ownership, as with the ‘Slow Street’ scheme − set to split several dual carriage ways into one for cars and one for cyclists, electric scooter riders and walkers. 

During the launch of the Slow Streets action plan back in 2020, it was said that local councils in coordination with Transport Malta would be temporarily closing a number of streets to traffic, which will result in additional free and unencumbered open public space and priority will be given to pedestrians and bicycles for essential travel. “Following the temporary pedestrianisation, the local council will study the degree of pedestrianisation it should implement according to the locality, street and the needs of the residents,” it was said at the time. 

Given this push towards such a shift within some localities, such a move must be coupled with the provision of parking spaces.   

Parking is already a serious issue around several localities in the island, so solutions must be found. 

Park and ride schemes within localities would offer the necessary parking spaces needed and would also allow for possibly more streets to be pedestrianised. Thus the proposal by the Association could be seen to go hand-in-hand with the Slow Streets scheme. 

The Park and Ride car parks would, however, need frequent trips organised to and from the car park. Otherwise people would not be, in general, very open to making use of them. 

The government needs to study the park and ride schemes that are currently being operated around the country, both public and private ones, and identify what is working, what isn’t and ways to attract more people to utilise them. Otherwise pedestrianising streets, however a good idea that is, will create a lot of congestion. 

A holistic plan and strategy is needed, and the fact that local councils are considering parking issues shows that they understand the need to tackle the impact that pedestrianisation can have.
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