Hello again summer, hello again parking nightmare. Somehow we all seem to forget about it. As the colder months approach the problem is pushed to the deep darkness of the back of our minds. Or is it that we are all just ostriches burying our heads in the sands and crossing our fingers that the problem will just go away.
“I’m sorry but I am still desperately searching for a parking space,” I apologised to a colleague who I was supposed to be meeting in the Old City. You could say that we were mad for arranging a meeting in the Old City, but we had no choice. I circled around and around the town. Every space full. No signs of hope. It is only the middle of April and already there is more space in a tin of sardines than in the public parking of Dubrovnik. Drastic times call for drastic measures.
Now when I first arrived in Dubrovnik I was a little shocked at the fact that many institutions and businesses have one price for locals and one for tourists. After twenty years I am not shocked anymore, in fact I would actively encourage it.
Of course there is a right way and a wrong way of pricing. It shouldn’t be more expensive for tourists, just cheaper for locals. If a steak normally costs 150 Kuna, it shouldn’t be 200 Kuna for tourists, but 100 for locals. Basically offering a discount and not pumping up the prices. And this is why I am not against parking privileges for locals.
How a foreign tourist can park his car within spitting distance of the Old City walls is beyond me? Try and park your car next to Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower or the Brandenburg Gate and see the response. The parking spaces directly around the Old City must be reserved for locals, full stop! Residents pay taxes here, live here and are of course entitled to some benefits. This isn’t being unfair to tourists; this is being fair to locals, the same as with the discounts on buses, restaurants and museums. You could even take this a step further.
Why not, from the 1st of May until the end of September, introduce a regulation that only DU number plates can park around the Old City, meaning local cars. The public garage, which is somewhat of a white elephant anyway, should be filled. Make all parking spaces on the road from the parking garage to Boninovo for DU number plates only. Is this discrimination? No, this happens all over the world and is a “residents only” style of parking. And there is already a similar system in use here anyway. Try to park on the promenade of Cavtat, you can’t. Ramps block the access and a sign reads residents only, without a card you can’t enter.
So on the road by the public garage you employ a few “security guards” to inform tourists that from this point there is no public parking and the best solution is to use the garage. It would be extremely easy to control. If the number plate isn’t DU then the car can’t be parked there.
Of course, it wouldn’t completely solve the problem of parking around the city, but it would certainly help. Tourists are basically here on holiday, they aren’t working, so for them to spend a few minutes walking to the Old City shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you live around the city and are carrying shopping, pushing a pram, taking children to school or struggling to carry a bottle of gas back home then parking near your home is absolutely important.
If you want to take it a step further, then introduce the “park and ride” system. Again this is not reinventing the wheel, this system is proven. So at the public garage you have a few small mini buses that are constantly driving from the garage to the Old City. You don’t need a timetable and the buses are free. Tourists could walk to the city and catch the bus back to their cars, or vice versa, and everyone is happy. The when the tourist season finishes you open the roads again and go back to normal.
It is an idea that needs ironing out, as I’m pretty sure there are some hitches that I haven’t considered, but at least it is an idea. Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change - Barbara Januszkiewicz. It is clear to a blind man that we need a new solution, well we have needed one for the past ten years, and no solutions have been presented in a decade, the time to try is now.