Seven local councils are in discussions with the authorities to introduce e-scooter parking bays in their localities.
The parking bays will be part of a system which ensures that anyone leaving an e-scooter abandoned in front of a garage or in the middle of a pavement will continue to be charged until it is parked in a designated spot.
“Transport Malta is conducting an exercise, which is still ongoing, together with local councils and major operators to identify new parking locations,” a TM spokesperson told Times of Malta.
The authority has so far held meetings with the St Julian’s, Naxxar and St Paul’s Bay local councils. Other meetings are planned with the Sliema, Msida, Swieqi, Ta’ Xbiex, Gżira and San Ġwann local councils.
The target is for the new parking system to be in place by summer.
“The new parking system will be introduced once an agreement is reached between the local councils, Transport Malta and the operators.”
While e-scooters provide an easier, cheaper and faster means of transport, they have become a nuisance to residents and pedestrians who have complained about having to navigate around carelessly parked scooters.
In the past three years, a total of 19,721 fines were slapped on e-scooters by the Local Enforcement System Agency (LESA). This year alone 4,020 fines were issued.
The target is for the new parking system to be in place by summer- Transport Malta spokesperson
Transport Malta issued another 605 fines and seized 225 e-scooters since the beginning of this year. Most of the scooters confiscated were from Sliema, St Julian’s, Swieqi and Gżira – all popular areas for the use of e-scooters.
The call for a proper infrastructure and parking docks for e-scooters dates to 2021, when the authorities said they were “considering” the introduction of specific docking stations. Last year, Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia said discussions with operators were taking place.
A Bolt spokesperson confirmed that the operator is “actively speaking” with various local councils to find a solution which is best for everyone.
She confirmed that riders will not be able to end rides outside the designated parking zones.
“We are hoping that this will ensure that scooters are parked correctly, not obstructing pavements, garages and crossroads, and not creating any problems or occupying existing parking spaces allocated to other forms of transport.”
E-scooter concept isn't new to the island
The concept of e-scooter parking bays is not new to the island.
Last year, the San Ġwann local council set up 40 dedicated e-scooter parking bays.
“So far the feedback has been positive, and we have seen a reduction in inconveniences,” San Ġwann mayor Trevor Fenech told Times of Malta.
“There has been more awareness in the locality to use these bays, and we are in the process to set up even more parking bays in different zones of San Ġwann.”
He said the relationship between the council and e-scooter operators has been a positive one, and they work hand in hand to reduce “harmful” inconveniences for pedestrians, especially parents with pushchairs or the elderly.
St Julian’s mayor Guido Dalli said he hopes the introduction of e-scooter parking bays will have a positive impact on the locality.
“It is easy to eliminate scooters from our roads, but then we will have to face the consequences, which could be that riders will purchase a car or use their car more often,” he said.
“As a council, we had meetings with Transport Malta and e-scooter operators in recent weeks, and now we are in the process of deciding where the spots will be.”
Sliema suffers from badly parked e-scooters
Another locality which suffers from badly parked e-scooters is Sliema.
Mayor John Pillow said over the past months, the council has held discussions with Bolt representatives and put forward a number of ideas to alleviate the nuisance e-scooters cause.
“Mainly to have designated drop-off and pick-up points around the locality, without taking up any of the precious parking bays,” he said.
He said the council is now in the process of identifying the spots. He said the council also proposed that e-scooters should only be made available to those who have a valid driving licence and that e-scooters should not go over the speed limit of 10km/h when driving on the promenade.
“While I personally believe that an outright ban would be detrimental to the mobility of many who choose this means of transportation to get around Sliema, a clear strategy needs to be implemented effectively in order to not let e-scooters litter our streets.”