The experience with ParkPAD in Ljutomer, Slovenia

Date: 09.05.2024

The Municipality of Ljutomer has a reputation for being a pioneering small city in sustainable mobility in Slovenia, as it was the first Slovenian municipality to adopt the sustainable urban mobility plan SUMP in 2013, according to EU guidelines. The SUMP was renewed in 2017. Ljutomer has already been partner in several EU projects on sustainable mobility, such as Active Travel Network, CH4LLENGE, Travel Switch, Hiking Biking, etc.

The Municipality of Ljutomer is dealing with different parking challenges. The city is facing high demand for limited parking spaces in the city centre. Currently, employees that work in the city centre are long-term users of limited parking spaces and therefore, visitors have limited access to this area. The municipality has no established parking policy.

The Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (UIRS), which has prior ParkPAD experience and has long collaborated with Ljutomer on sustainable urban mobility planning, has implemented the ParkPAD process in Ljutomer, Slovenia. The first ParkPAD meeting was implemented in October 2023. The number of participants (12) is somewhat low, as more people (16) completed the questionnaire. The difficulty with large groups of people is that it is challenging to set up a time that is suitable for everyone.  The specificity of a smaller town also means a lower number of interest groups. As the town is rather small, parking is rarely seen as a problem.

When going through the questionnaire results at the meeting, it turned out that there was some misunderstanding regarding Q&A options. The examples of the given levels of parking management were taken too literally, which contributed to confusion, as some of the examples couldn’t be applied to Ljutomer or were not relevant for Ljutomer. It was concluded that the descriptions of the parking policy levels need to be more clearly defined and visible at each question.

During the debate, some of the missing topics from the questionnaire were defined, for example, parking for tourist buses. Although there were some different views regarding some of the topics, the meeting was a welcome opportunity to exchange views on parking between different stakeholder groups. Overall, there was no heated discussion among the participants, and the consensus was mostly quickly reached.

The second meeting was held in January 2024. There were 13 attendees, mostly the same group of people as at the first meeting. At the meeting, 5 priorities for the action plan were presented along with good examples regarding each topic.

The meeting provoked some more discussion regarding parking challenges in Ljutomer, which indicates that parking is always a relevant topic. The discussion was used to narrow down the possibilities and wishes of the stakeholders regarding the pilot projects within the NXTLVL Parking project.

Parking management is a topic that is, at least in Ljutomer, rarely discussed with citizens. ParkPAD proved to be a great opportunity to change that and invite different stakeholder groups to participate and share their views regarding parking policy in their local environment. It was a valuable experience for the municipality to get direct feedback from the stakeholders.