The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

Being responsible – the threat of the dreaded e-scooter

Sunday, 26 June 2022, 10:17 Last update: about 3 months ago

Julian Zarb

In my last article, I wrote about the total lack of civic responsibility on these islands; until we learn to adopt this civci responsibility there can be NO quality tourism, there will be NO real tourism and there will be NO chance for these islands to gain a foothold as a quality destination and a first choice for the visitor who wants to be there. You will always be in third place, basing your markets on two factors – price and availability instead of attractiveness, character and culture. This week I will talk about one issue that is really destroying our culture and our quality of life – the dreaded e-scooter (now this could be an excellent way of improving and managing the reckless traffic and private care situation here). E-scooters are becoming a chronic illness for these islands because of total irresponsibility and a lack of care by the hiring company and the stoned users!

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It should be very simple to manage the e-scooters on these islands if every town and village allocated a number of parking bays and docking stations these can be part funded by the hiring company as well as the local council and there should be an hourly charge for parking or charging the vehicles payable by the user and the hiring company. Those users who ignore these regulations and parking facilities would be subject to hefty fines for a first offence and hefty fines and a revocation of their right to hire these vehicles. Once we have managed the parking and docking issues across the islands then we need to tackle their use on the roads (including riding them up or down one way streets in the wrong direction) and abiding by the regulations set out in the Highway Code. We should make sure that the e-scooter is seen and practised as a sustainable method of transport instead of turning into a dreaded obstacle and hindrance for the local resident. It would be good if our roads were built and designed to accomodate vehicular traffic, public transport including the trackless tram, cycle lanes and e-scooter lanes. We must make it easier and safer to cycle to work and use an effective public transport system and we need to avert people from using their private vehicles all the time. Buildiung more and more roads on these islands are a total waste of funds and will not improve the issue of traffic but will, in effect, make it worse. Surely those responsible for building these roads (and I am not speaking of the Romans here) must realize that if they had a little power in their grey matter!

Being responsible and civic minded in managing our traffic, using e-scooters and cycles in a careful manner will make these islands a much better destination and could be a start to developing that quality destination. Next time I will discuss the other chornic illness – the erratic development of the “fletsijiet” and the ODZ conondrum that seems to be a grey area on these islands. Developers just cannot understand the meaning of ODZ – no it does not mean Ordinary Developing Zones and they are not there to be bargained with between government and the developer; nor is it legal to destroy these areas and putting the blame on the unlikely bush fire.

 

Recommendations and summary

1.       Understand the responsibility of the management of traffic and the Highway Code

2.      Use sustainable transport in the national interest not simply for your own egocentric use

3.      Roads must be attractive for the sustainable transport not for the polluting vehicle that has become a status simple instead of a method of getting from A to B safely

4.      Quality tourism will not just happen, you need to work for it!

 

I sometimes wonder if am I writing for the converted? Are there any other persons who agree or disagree with me? I frequently meet people who read these articles – but these articles are not just there to be read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, they are there to sow the seeds of change from apathy to commitment; to make tourism an activity we can be proud of. Let me know what you think and how you feel about tourism.

 

Dr Julian Zarb is a researcher, local tourism planning consultant and an Academic at the University of Malta. He has also been appointed as an expert for the High Streets Task Force in the UK. His main area of research is community-based tourism and local tourism planning using the integrated approach.

 

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