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Discouraging cars, encouraging bicycles

MAASTRICHT. Paid parking everywhere; cyclists receive a bonus; public transport paid for by the university. The UM's ‘mobility policy’ is to undergo a change. Reactions to the proposed plan are being invited. A University Council committee found little to criticise.

It would be better not to call it a ‘parking policy’, says director of Facility Services (FS), Erwin Kuil. He prefers the term ‘mobility policy’. Parking policy, and certainly the announcement that motorists among staff and students will in future have to pay, is a recipe for heated feelings. Questions have already been asked in the city council and concerns have been phrased by citizens in surrounding areas in Randwijck about motorists trying to park there.

The reasons for the change are clear. In addition to tightening up the UM's sustainability policy by discouraging the use of cars, there is a quite specific cause: Randwijck is soon to undergo a change and almost 600 parking spaces will be lost. Presumably - the policy has not been crystallised out yet - this will also affect those used by the UM. This is also why the UM is negotiating with the MECC for the use of parking spaces there. Hopefully, this will result in approximately the same number of spaces at Randwijck (1,467). Nick Bos from the Executive Board: “It will cost us money at MECC; if what we provide were to remain free of charge, that would cause inequality. This is the reason why we are now asking everyone to pay, also in the city centre. We will compensate the difference between our rates and those of MECC.”

Access to the UM premises is restricted to those who have a parking permit, and that will remain so. At the moment, this applies to 2,800 of the UM’s 4,300 employees, and for a total of 1,776 available parking spaces: so, everybody parking at the same time is out of the question anyway. Current users must apply for a new permit. The daily rates depend on the distance to work: there is a minimum of 15 kilometres, for those travelling between 15 and 20 km, the rate is 2 euro, from 20 to 25 km it is 1.5 euro, above 25 km 1 euro. According to FS, 65 per cent of the employees live further away than 15 km. All employees receive 8 days of free parking on UM grounds each year.

Students, who can now park their cars for free on the premises on the Sorbonnelaan, will in future have to pay 5 euro per two weeks or 10 euro per month. Only those who live more than 15 km way, will get access. The rather boggy plot of land will be upgraded.

Good news for employees who cycle to work: they will receive 50 cents per day, registration is done through the UM card and special sensors at the bicycle parking facilities. The ‘bicycle scheme’, a contribution of 340 euro towards the purchase of a new bicycle, only applied to those living within a radius of 15 km, but this will be extended to 30 km. People who walk to work, get nothing.

In addition, employees will be reimbursed for the expenses of public transport, no matter where they live. Previously, a maximum of 10 km from work applied. However, those who participate in the bicycle or public transport scheme, will not be entitled to a parking space, and vice versa.

The mobility policy still needs some fine-tuning. For example, there is the issue of employees with young children, who use their cars for that reason, but who live within a radius of 15 km. For this category, 8 days of free parking in a year is too little, the University Council committee concluded.

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