A cyclist who fractured her jaw after landing face first when she fell off her bike is planning to sue the government in the hope that she jolts the authorities into making roads safer.
Alison Zammit Endrich was riding her bicycle in Gżira last week when her front tyre got stuck into a drain grate, which, instead of being designed at right angles to the road, had its slots built parallel to the traffic flow.
"The doctor at Mater Dei Hospital told me I shouldn't have been riding a bike because it's dangerous. But, I'm sorry, bicycles are not dangerous, it's the roads that are lethal," she said.
Ms Zammit Endrich said she was lucky to be alive because had she fallen at a different angle her injuries could have been much worse. Instead, she got away with a cracked chin, bruises all over her face and a broken jaw bone, which will take weeks to heal.
Although she hopes to demand compensation from the government, she insists she is not doing it for money but to prove a point and finally persuade the authorities to do something about the dangerous roads.
"The government tries to encourage cyclists by giving back the tax paid when buying a bike. But that's not enough. We need to have proper bicycle lanes. I hope this incident happened to me so that I can help make a change."
Her accident happened on a bus lane at the Gżira seafront.
"I know I shouldn't have been riding on a bus lane but there isn't another option. All over Europe they're making the roads safer for cyclists because of the benefits this offers but here it seems they're not doing anything."
She said the drain grates could easily have been placed diagonally or horizontally instead of being hazardously placed parallel to the road.
Environmental activist and avid cyclist George Debono agrees that this would be the logical thing to do. But he believes the roads have other "menaces" including potholes, sleeping policemen and the "appalling" attitude of motorists.
He said he had somersaulted in a similar manner a couple of times, so he now chooses to ride on pavements even though he is frequently stopped by policemen and threatened with fines for doing do.
"I wouldn't pay a fine because this is the only way I can survive," he said, adding that a policeman had given him a warning in Gżira, close to where Ms Zammit Endrich's accident happened.
"We are so backwards," he lamented, pointing out that next week was the anniversary of the death of Cliff Micallef, who was hit by a car on the Coast Road in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq.
But not much has changed since then.
Ray Abela, another cyclist, said "booby-traps" could be found throughout Maltese roads. "There are gutters that are sunken in because of the load of trucks. What happens is that you're constantly having lucky escapes and then keeping these hazards in your mental database to avoid them."
He said he did not feel safe, particularly because of dangerous overtaking by cars. Abroad, cars had to keep at least one metre away from cyclists, he said.
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