“Changing of transportation habits of residents and also of city visitors will pay off” (Moshe Hirsh)

More than three thousand residents of Bratislava have until the beginning of May joined the public debate about the new parking strategies, launched recently by the local government. There are more than 150 thousand parking spaces on the roads from 1st to 4th category located on the territory of the Slovak capital available to drivers. There are more than 210 thousand cars registered in Bratislava and other nearly 100 thousand cars arrive every working day into the city from nearby villages, towns and regions of Slovakia.

Also Tel Aviv had to solve the growing problems associated with parking. The city government concluded, that the way to improve the situation is the establishment of clear rules, stricter parking conditions and promotion of cycling. The second largest city of Israel has the size and population similar to Bratislava. Today, it houses about 400 thousand inhabitants (there live 460 thousand people in Bratislava).

Ten years ago, almost 400 thousand cars arrived into Tel Aviv every day, which caused considerable problems with traffic jams and parking. Since most parts of the city function as administrative and also residential areas, a noticeable lack of parking spaces throughout the city was a daily occurrence from the early hours until midnight. To solve this problem, the city has adopted a sustainable transport strategy, which favors the city residents almost 10 years ago. The key parts of the document included the introduction of a new parking management and intensive promotion of non-motorized transport, especially cycling.

The new parking system was launched simultaneously in the whole city. Tel Aviv has been divided into four zones. Residents of each zone could request a free parking sticker. Every citizen, either with permanent or temporary residence in the city was entitled to a sticker for one car, which he/she owned or used. Residents parked for free on one of the designated street parking spaces in their area of residence. On the contrary, visitors parked for 1.5 EUR/hour. At least half of the street parking spaces was after 17:00 reserved for residents of the zone.

Some parking spaces were available to visitors for a fee also after 17:00. However, those spaces were shared with residents who parked for free.
Some districts didn’t have enough street parking spaces for their residents. These residents were allowed too leave their cars with the sticker also on municipal parking spaces outside of the area of their residence, but within the boundaries of respective district. The city has built these spaces from the income received from the operation of the new system of public parking.

The distinction between residents and visitors required a strict monitoring and compliance with the rules. Since the formal responsibility for enforcing of the parking system was transferred from the government to the city 25 years ago, the city has obtained its own control mechanism for the parking.

Average income from the parking system was in the last decade about 55 mil. EUR per year. Part of the funds was invested into the building of 110 kilometers of safer and more comfortable bicycle routes. Last year a modern system of public bike-sharing with over 50 stands has been implemented.

By following the rules of a strict parking system, to last year the amount of cars entering the city decreased by over 10%. More people commute into the city by public transport. And from all of the transit routes in the city center (excluding pedestrian), cycling routes represent currently almost 20%.

Time to find a free parking spot after returning home from work (after 17:00) has for residents decreased from 10 minutes to an average of less than 60 seconds! The average velocity of the vehicles on minor roads has increased by almost 8 km/hour. System for the management of city parking is updated regularly. New payment technologies and methods for control are being introduced. The final changes reflect the observations and insights from the ongoing dialogue with the public.

The author is an international expert in the field of parking and co-author of the parking systems in Tel Aviv, Tbilisi, Moscow, Pristina, Jinan and Athens, as well as of the proposal for the new parking system for Bratislava.