The bicycle lane on the newly-restructured Mġarr road is dangerously narrow for bicycles and Infrastructure Malta will have to widen parts of it.

The road that links Mġarr to Mosta has just had a major safety upgrade intended to avoid head-on collisions bet-ween vehicles.

Yet, the new bicycle lane is so narrow that, at several points, it forces cyclists to rejoin the traffic.

The president of cyclists’ NGO Rota, Daniel Vella, accompanied Times of Malta to the site to demonstrate the danger.

“The number one reason people don’t reach for their bicycles is safety,” Vella said.

“Before the road was constructed, we were consulted by Infrastructure Malta and the plan was to have one segregated cycle lane and a pavement for pedestrians.”

But, instead, the road has two cycle lanes going in either direction and a footpath on one side.

This infrastructure is failing both bicycle users and car users- Daniel Vella, Rota

“As you can see now, it gets so narrow at times that you can’t go through with your bicycle and you end up in the car lane,” Vella said as he was forced to veer out.

“This infrastructure is failing both bicycle users and car users, who cannot understand why this bike user is not in the cycle lane. How can they comprehend it? They cannot know that the bike lane is not wide enough to fit a bicycle.”

After the hundreds of thousands spent on the road project, “the infrastructure is unusable and unsafe”, he said.

'It's unsafe and can kill people'

Infrastructure should be planned in a way that encourages more people to take up alternative transport, he added.

“If we had better planning for this road, everyone would benefit. At the end of the day, bad infrastructure is failing us all.

“It is unsafe and it can injure and kill people,” Vella said.

“But we also must think about the future. We need to consider the direction we’re taking and we cannot prioritise only the car.

“We need to factor in sustainable mobility for the future. We need to change our trajectory and make cycling a viable option for the present and the future as well.”

In reply to questions, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Malta said the agency had noted cyclists’ concerns and would be rebuilding parts of the existing boundary wall to widen the narrower parts of the northbound cycle lane.

The works, which are due to start in the coming months, will not damage the new road and will not require its closure.

The proposal for the segregated two-way cycling track had to be reconsidered as it required the take-up of additional land, which included protected areas of natural or archaeological importance, the spokesperson said.

He said the road had previously been an accident black spot as there was no protection against head-on collisions and practically no measures to curb speeding. The dual carriageway is now separated by crash barriers and bollards.

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