Cyclists have appealed to the authorities to accompany new road designs with educational campaigns, amid frustration and confusion over new cycle lanes at Tal-Balal branded by bike users as “unsafe” and “substandard”.

The new lanes along the road between San Ġwann and Naxxar are marked out in green paint and drew criticism for crisscrossing the roundabout and, in the case of one lane which drew widespread mockery online, leading directly into the wall of a nearby building.

BAG president Michelle Attard Tonna wants authorities to be more sensitive to cyclists. Video: Jonathan Borg

Bicycle Advocacy Group (BAG) president Michelle Attard Tonna said on Monday it was unclear to both drivers and cyclists how the new lanes were meant to be used, including who had right of way.

Confused cyclists

Showing Times of Malta around the new set-up, she demonstrated how the lanes caused confusion - and danger for cyclists - by crossing directly over the vehicle lanes.

She insisted the only safe way to navigate such a busy intersection would be to have to cyclists separated from the roundabout itself.

“I appeal to the authorities to involve cyclists in these new designs; otherwise there is no way for them to understand how dangerous it is for someone trying to navigate the roundabout,” Dr Attard Tonna said.

“When cyclists are expected to stay on the outer perimeter it creates a confusing situation both for cyclists and drivers when they have to take an exit.”

Dr Attard Tonna noted that a near-identical design had already been introduced at a roundabout in Żebbuġ, close to St Dorothy’s School, despite the lobby group’s contention back in the design stage that the set-up was “particularly dangerous”.

“This will surely not encourage anyone new to get on their bike and will probably scare off people who are currently on their bikes,” Dr Attard Tonna said. “Who will take responsibility if an accident occurs?”

She also drew attention to a judicial protest filed by the BAG last October calling upon the government to hold “real and effective consultation” before changing more public road infrastructure, and holding authorities responsible for any incidents.

The authorities responded that such consultation was already being held and that cyclists, like other road users, were responsible for their own safety on the road.

The safety of the Tal-Balal cycle lanes had already been called into question by Transport Malta, among 37 different issues the authority flagged over the road designs drawn up by its fellow government agency Infrastructure Malta.

Transport Malta warned that bike lanes passing through roundabouts could cause collisions as they took up part of the lane width, meaning the rest of the lane was not wide enough to fit a vehicle alongside a cyclist.


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