Updated at 2.26pm with local council reaction
Concrete bicycle racks installed in Paola’s main square have irked cyclists, who say the structures are a bicycle thief’s dream come true.
The structure features long horizontal grooves with a low rail in their front, and can house up to six bicycles at any one time.
However, cyclists were quick to dismiss it as “street furniture” designed by “someone who has never seen a bicycle in their life”.
The racks, cyclists noted, make it very easy for thieves to steal bicycles whose front wheels can be detached using a quick-release valve.
“They can just leave with the frame and rear wheel, which are the most expensive parts of any bike,” a cyclist told Times of Malta.
Guidelines for a bicycle rack financial aid scheme launched in 2018 by the Finance Minister specifically note that racks must support bikes at two points of contact and allow cyclists to lock bicycle frames and one wheel with a U-lock without the removal of the wheel.
The guidelines recommend ‘Sheffield-style’, U-shaped bicycle racks – a common sight in cities across the world – as being ideal.
Racks can be modified
Thankfully, the Paola oversight need not be permanent.
Times of Malta spoke with architect Chris Mintoff, who designed the revamped square. He said that cyclists had shared their concerns with him, and that he was now looking at ways of resolving them.
“The racks can be modified to make them more resistant to theft,” he said.
A representative of Paola local council said they had nothing to do with the racks, which were part of the square embellishment project piloted by the central government.