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PAVEMENT PARKING TO END; MUNICIPALITIES WARN OF PROBLEMS

Parking ban worries Bratislava

BRATISLAVA has never been much of a car parking paradise: mounting the unforgiving kerbs - at risk of wheel damage or worse - is the lot of many drivers pushed for time and short of space. But for those who have got used to parking their cars on the city's pavements things look set to get even worse once parliament passes a new bill on roads. Conversely, the pedestrians who frequently come off second best in the battle for pavement space might just welcome the new legislation from the Interior Ministry.

Drivers have been aggressive in their parking habits, say police.(Source: Drivers have been aggressive in their parking habits, say police.)

BRATISLAVA has never been much of a car parking paradise: mounting the unforgiving kerbs - at risk of wheel damage or worse - is the lot of many drivers pushed for time and short of space. But for those who have got used to parking their cars on the city's pavements things look set to get even worse once parliament passes a new bill on roads. Conversely, the pedestrians who frequently come off second best in the battle for pavement space might just welcome the new legislation from the Interior Ministry.

News of the proposal, which would completely ban parking on pavements, has led to protests from local authorities who say that they already are struggling with a lack of parking space and that the new bill fails to deal with the core problem.

The police defended the legislation, saying that drivers often block the sidewalk so that pedestrians, especially those with prams, aren't able to get past.

Viktor Plézel, deputy spokesman for the Slovak Police, argues that even in the present law there is a section stating that parties other than pedestrians must not use the pavement unless a traffic sign indicates otherwise.

Bratislava's largest suburb, Petržalka, might be one of those most affected by the parking ban. Petržalka currently has about 19,000 parking lots, but needs approximately 40,000 more.

The Petržalka local government said, however, that it understands the efforts of the Interior Ministry to limit pavement parking of vehicles.

"Such regulation is desirable, but it should not be one-sided," Ľubomír Andrássy, spokesman of the local government of Petržalka told The Slovak Spectator. "The draft law on roads should reflect some kind of compromise, which on the one hand will protect pedestrians but on the other will give local governments a real tool to solve the critical situation with static transportation."

According to Andrássy, the Petržalka local government at the end of 2007 approved a programme to solve the parking problem and offer pragmatic solutions in terms of creating new space.

One of the solutions the local government proposes is to make selected streets one-way and also regulate partial parking of cars on the pavement, which could potentially create 3,000 new parking slots.

"A one-sided ban on parking on pavements without the possibility of regulation by local governments could bring insoluble problems for many drivers - and not only in the Petržalka suburb," Andrássy said. However, he noted that even with the solution of partial parking, the comfort of pedestrians, physically disabled citizens and parents should be respected.

In fact, stricter rules will put a heavier burden on budgets, said Andrássy.

The Bratislava municipality too disagrees with the proposal and it has already handed its official protest to the ministry.

"The concept for parking and parking policy in Bratislava has already been set, we now need to create legislation," the deputy mayor of Bratislava, Milan Cílek, told the SITA newswire.

Bratislava for example proposes to follow the example of some German or Austrian cities where there are so-called 'zones' with regulated paid parking where drivers can park their cars only in marked areas. The zones would be selected by the municipality based on consultations with the traffic police, according to the Aktualne.sk news server.

However, the police said that municipalities should have outlined their concerns sooner.

"The Bratislava local government council had the option to comment on the new legislation," Plézel told The Slovak Spectator. "If even the civil association Bicycle Bratislava was able to make a couple of comments, why haven't they [the local government] done so?"

"The parliament will now discuss the law and we will see in what form the deputies approve it," Plézel said.

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