The new ‘shared lane’ intended to be used by both motorists and cyclists on Mdina Road in Żebbuġ was “dangerous” according to a cyclists’ lobby group, which is also urging cyclists to beware of using the two main roundabouts on the road.
Popular with both commuters and leisure cyclists, the cycling lane on the Żebbuġ bypass was removed with the widening of Mdina Road between the two main roundabouts in Żebbuġ.
Steve Zammit Lupi of the Bicycle Advocacy Group said on Monday that the lane put cyclists at peril as they were sharing a small space with much faster moving vehicles.
The road, which previously consisted of two lanes – one north and one southbound – now consists of two southbound lanes (towards Qormi) and one northbound lane.
“If we can find space for more lanes, why can’t we find space for bikes?” he asked during a press conference along the busy thoroughfare.
Markings known as sharrows have been painted in the centre of the street indicating that cyclists can use the full lane.
Sharrows have also been painted on a service road adjacent to the northbound lane.
Road users, Mr Zammit Lupi said, were unsure of how they were meant to share a road with a speed limit of 60 kilometres an hour when bicycles travel at an average of 15 to 20km.
Meanwhile, cyclists are also complaining about the way the authorities mapped out a route for bicycles that made use of two main roundabouts on the road.
Mr Zammit Lupi said the advocacy group had met Infrastructure Malta prior to the project to discuss ways to avoid hazard to cyclists and drivers alike.
Despite their consultation meetings, markings had been placed on the tarmac around the roundabout outside St Dorothy’s School, indicating that the perimeter now included a cycle lane.
“We want to encourage cyclists not to use this cycle lane on the roundabout and instead position themselves in the centre of the roundabout,” Mr Zammit Lupi said.
He said cyclists were better off crossing at the roads leading up to the roundabouts, rather than traversing the actual roundabout.
The advocacy group is also urging the authorities to erect signs along the road, reminding motorists to share the road.
Other cyclists said they were finding it difficult to understand which policies and guidelines the authorities were using when incorporating cycle lanes in major projects.
“We are noticing different systems used in different projects. There is a lack of continuity and this is dangerous,” Mr Zammit Lupi said.
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