We keep hearing in the press about how this road or that road will have so many kilometres for car drivers and a few hundred metres of cycle lanes, often relegated to one side.

Clearly people on bikes will have to use main roads when accessing the rest of the scheme or when coming back, so is it all just bikewash? But then the truth is segregated, cycle lanes are not really for cyclists, they are for car drivers who fear swapping a car for a bike and cycling on the road. And swap we must. 

In a single week of our emissions hitting the highest rate of increase, 12.8 per cent in the EU, it was found that car drivers on the Birkirkara bypass spend on average 66 hours a year sitting in traffic, and all despite extensive traffic easing at Lija and on the Kappara bypass. Add to that as much as 28 per cent of people in Malta walking less than 10 minutes a week. This should be ringing warning bells that something is very wrong with our transport strategy, if not from the transport sector, then the health sector. After all, if sitting is the new smoking, sitting in traffic on the Birkirkara bypass you are doing both. 

But the problem is, those healthier and active options tend to get discouraged, while traffic easing and increased parking provision encourages driving, creating a reverse ‘modal shift’.

It’s time our politicians, local council administrators and not just those involved in transport – because this is a bigger issue than just transport – get onto their own two feet and find out how difficult it is for people to walk and cycle from point A to point B. Because it’s people we have to move, not cars.

A metro being a good 10 years away translates into drivers using buses or bikes. To keep moving we need good quality segregated bike lanes. These move five to six times more people than one traffic lane can. So they work for drivers who would change as well as those who can’t. 

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