With regard to Francis Said’s letter, Lack Of Road Discipline, far from being seen, in Said’s admitted sarcasm, as ‘saints on wheels’, cyclists would like to be seen as pragmatists on wheels. The reason being that bicycle uptake in Europe and elsewhere is on the increase as a pragmatic approach to relieving urban transport pressures.
Phillipe Crist, an economist at the International Transport Forum, of which Malta is a member, has significantly noted that “21st century cities won’t work
without cycling”. So it would seem we are, excuse the pun, on the right road. In addition, we are increasingly seeing cost and practical benefits to other road users, via increased cycle uptake. Strangely, we have also noted an increase in membership every time there is a letter in the press against cycling.
With regard to the statement that “other cyclists should insist that the Administration commission a study and start implementing real road discipline”, we have been suggesting the Government and local councils sign up to the internationally-recognised Velo-City charters and look towards the development of a national cycling policy for a number of years but, as yet, to no avail.
As an aside, the Bicycle Advocacy Group (Malta) has distributed 4,500 Safe Cycling Pocket Guides in the last year (we still have a few left) and has kept up a monthly cycling safety poster and info spot distributed to all local councils and a number of dedicated safety campaigns like Stop On Red, anti-dooring and Right Way-One Way campaigns in the same period. This, in fact, became daily during Bike To Work month in May.
BAG has consistently raised issues that affect other road users, like pedestrians and car drivers, in reporting road and footpath hazards to the authorities. We don’t know of any other road user pressure group (although we would welcome it) making a similar effort towards road safety in Malta.
Said is quite entitled to his opinion, of course, but we have noted cars being involved in exactly the same type of incidents occurring as those described by him. This is not to say that two wrongs make a right but that we would concur with the notion of enforcement, in particular, enforcement across the board.
However it is our experience that when reporting car drivers for unsafe acts that do not involve injury the response from the police has been indifferent. Even when the registration number is given. This may be due to an economy of effort of course, the police having enough to do and having to prioritise as well. So we have actually given up following such cases. We would tend to wish Said every luck with that.
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