'SMART & BEAUTIFUL' PARKING WOES GRIP CENTRAL SOFIA

by Stamen Manolov

Toby Young, the associate editor of The Spectator, once wrote a book with an It-Says-It-All title, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People

The advisors to Vasil Terziev, the mayor of Sofia, who are supposedly as "smart and beautiful" as the political parties that put him forward, must have swallowed that book several times over and mastered to perfection the craft of losing friends and alienating people...

A month ahead of the cut-throat general election that the Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria alliance (Terziev's political godfathers) say will determine this country's "geopolitical orientation," Vasil Terziev ordered some traffic realignment in central Sofia that instantly managed to infuriate everyone that would dare drive along Patriarch Evtimiy Boulevard and around the National Palace of Culture. Local residents were outraged because as a result they lost dozens of precious parking spaces. Bikers were unhappy because the two new biking lanes along the boulevard are very obviously inadequate to offer protection from vehicles. But what can in equal measure be seen as both absurd and funny is the thorough lack of competence in urbanisation and traffic matters as manifested by the new park alignment around the NDK. Now motorists have to pull over, jam the traffic behind in the process, and park in reverse gear. If they do not, once they drive out they will find themselves in the... opposite direction lane. To add insult to injury, the Sofia City Council officials demolished the few parking spaces reversed for the disabled, in effect making it impossible for people with mobility issues to reach the park in front of the NDK.

Local residents were quick to slam the "cleverness" of the new arrangement and even organised some street rallies, claiming for years Sofia City Council, which collects hefty car park charges and penalties, has failed to built a single multi-storey or underground lot. Even Traycho Traykov, a local mayor and a top PP-DB functionary, joined the chorus of denunciation, saying the realignment decisions must have been made in an "untransparent" manner.

It remains to be seen whether the residents of central Sofia will prefer to vote for the geopolitical orientation at the general election in June or whether their parking spaces will matter more at the ballot boxes.

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