Published on February 26th, 2013 | by Ivan Martin0
Parking Complex Won’t Solve University Parking Problem – Bicycle Advocacy Group
The Labour Party’s proposal to build a multi-storey parking complex on campus is a ‘cosmetic’ solution to the University of Malta’s parking problems, according to UM Student and Bicycle Advocacy Group (BAG) member Saviour Agius.
“There are a number of contradictions at play here. Roughly 11,000 students attend the University of Malta and the great majority live close by, but I doubt whether the number of students who cycle to University exceeds 30,” said Michael Rosner, lecturer at the department of Intelligent Computer Systems and BAG member.
The UK curently holds the lowest percentage of EU citizens who cycle on a daily basis (3%). Mr Rosner believes that the first step for UoM is to strive to achieve this 3% figure on campus.
“This would mean an increase of roughly 10 times the current amount of student cyclists – it’s a tall order, but an achievable figure,” he said.
Mr Rosner indicated that the shift towards cycling involves three factors: Infrastructure, which boiled down to the introduction of safe cycle lanes and clear signage; Legal provisions, as Malta doesn’t currently enforce a minimum passing distance for cyclists; and Education.
“We need to tackle the perception of cycling as uncool; we need to make cycling sexy,” said Mr Rosner, refering to the popularity of cycling among students in foreign Universities.
“We need cycle lanes, real ones. Lanes suddenly ending along a main road is unacceptable,” said Mr Agius.
BAG is proposing the introduction of ‘cycle routes’ which it believes will serve as “afunctional solution to many of Malta’s transportation problems”.
“This is a network of cycle routes and paths which offer an alternative to main roads. Bicycle-friendly routes can create a network between the University
and the surrounding areas – after all most students live in areas relatively close by,” said Mr Agius, adding that this solution is aimed at students living relatively close to campus.
“The ‘Calamatta road’ behind University counseling services offers an ideal connection between UoM and San Gwann, and ultimately a host of other destinations,” added Mr Rosner.
BAG has consulted Transport Malta, local bus serve provider Arriva and local councils across the island and is planning a the network of cycle routes which they believe is “a more realistic solution to congestion”.
“Eventually, students will be able to download apps highlighting routes all over the island,” said an enthusiastic Mr Rosner.
In a meeting with BAG two weeks ago, the Prime Minister showed his support for the a project while insisting that a comprehensive study of cycle routes would need to be completed before the project could be undertaken.
“There are many solutions to parking problems at UoM. I approached KSU at the start of the academic year and discussed the possibility of KSU parking permits consisting of units that would cover, say, 75 % of the academic year. This would mean that once these units are spent, one cannot park on campus anymore, encouraging car pooling and the use of public transport,” said Mr Agus. Unfortunately the scheme was shot down by KSU who felt it would require additional personnel and funding. ” I can’t see why a camera system similar to that in Valletta wouldn’t work, ” is Mr Agius’ response.