The Malta Independent 26 April 2019, Friday

Bicycle Advocacy Group criticises limited and disconnected cycle lane in Central Link project

Rebecca Iversen Tuesday, 29 May 2018, 20:01 Last update: about 12 months ago

The Bicycle Advocacy Group (B.A.G) criticised the government's Central Link project for failing to provide safe and attractive bicycle infrastructure, calling for the government to carry out studies and to consult the NGO before implementing such projects.

 B.A.G along with avid bicycle users stated this in a press conference yesterday evening held at the San Anton Junction of traffic lights in Attard. B.A.G claimed that the €55 million project had dedicated only two kilometres to bike lanes with the project itself proposing disconnected bike lanes that are not up to standards used across Europe.

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The National Cycling Strategy, which was meant to be launched last year, has still not been launched. Transport and Infrastructure Ian Borg this past Monday in Parliament stated that Transport Malta is working on projects to introduce 7.7km of new cycle lanes. The recently announced Central Link Project is to upgrade the road infrastructure from Saqqajja Hill in Rabat all the way down to Mriehel bypass.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, B.A.G stipulated that before the public's attitude could change on cycling, the infrastructure necessary to provide safe cycling was essential first.

However B.A.G critiqued the already too narrow 2km bicycle lane that is being proposed which will not be physically segregated from 60 km/h plus traffic. "Painted road markings allowing a very narrow space are a death-sentence for those wishing to commute along the route by bicycle" the NGO stated.

The other issue noted was the lack of serious consultation with stakeholders on such projects, despite calls from B.A.G's end for safer bicycle infrastructure to be included at the planning stage of any road project. "The road designs have already been approved, and the opportunity to raise official objections has been bypassed". They added that "the overall approach to infrastructural planning, cannot be part of a long-term solution to reduce traffic, car dependence or pollution mitigation, both for locals and the whole population using the route."

University student Luke Abela, said that students were more than ready to use bikes and alternative transport methods, adding that the infrastructure was simply lacking and the right incentives need to be in place.

The NGO highlighted the missed opportunities in the Kappara flyover, the Marsa junction project, and now also the Santa Lucija tunnel project, "whereby bicycle infrastructure is being side-lined to accommodate cars, leading to ineffective quick fix-measures".

B.A.G claimed that such projects of using "additional" space just for cars is contradictory to the published policies of the Authority and the Government which both acknowledge the need for a serious modal shift and sustainability framework including the Valletta Declaration for the Road Safety signed by the transport ministers of all EU member states in Malta last year and the Transport Master plan 2025.

B.A.G welcomes the upgrading of road infrastructure in general, calling for "a holistic approach which integrates the needs of all road users, prioritising the most vulnerable and those that are using the most efficient modes."


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