the cycle path obliges cyclists to circulate

The cycle path on the newly restructured Mġarr road is dangerously narrow for bicycles and Infrastructure Malta will have to widen parts of it.

The road between Mġarr and Mosta has just undergone a major safety upgrade aimed at avoiding head-on collisions between vehicles.

However, the new cycle lane is so narrow that it forces cyclists to join the traffic at several points.

The president of the Rota cycling NGO, Daniel Vella, accompanied Malta Time on the site to demonstrate the danger.

“The number one reason people don’t ride their bikes is for safety,” Vella said.

“Before the road was built, we were consulted by Infrastructure Malta and the plan was to have a separate cycle lane and sidewalk for pedestrians.”

But, instead, the road has two cycle lanes going in both directions and a footpath on one side.

This infrastructure is lacking for both cyclists and motorists-Daniel Vella, Rota

“As you can see now, sometimes it gets so narrow that you can’t get through with your bike and you end up in the car lane,” Vella said as he was forced out.

“This infrastructure leaves much to be desired for both bicycle users and car users, who do not understand why this bicycle user is not in the cycle lane. How can they understand it? They may not know that the bike path is not wide enough to accommodate a bike.

After the hundreds of thousands spent on the road project, “the infrastructure is unusable and unsafe”, he said.

“It’s dangerous and it can kill people”

Infrastructure must be planned in a way that encourages more people to adopt alternative transport, he added.

“If we had better planning for this route, everyone would benefit. Ultimately, poor infrastructure fails us all.

“It’s dangerous and it can hurt and kill people,” Vella said.

“But we also have to think about the future. We have to think about the direction we’re going and we can’t just focus on the car.

“We have to consider sustainable mobility for the future. We need to change our trajectory and make cycling a viable option for the present and the future as well.

In response to questions, a spokesman for Infrastructure Malta said the agency had taken note of cyclists’ concerns and would rebuild parts of the existing perimeter wall to widen the narrower parts of the cycle path towards the north.

The works, which should start in the next few months, will not damage the new road and will not require its closure.

The separate two-way cycle path proposal had to be reconsidered as it required the occupation of additional land, which included protected areas of natural or archaeological significance, the spokesperson said.

He said the road had previously been a black spot for accidents because there was no protection against frontal collisions and virtually no measures to limit speed. The dual carriageway is now separated by guardrails and bollards.

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Wiley C. Thompson