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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Malta Road Safety Campaign Focus On Use of Bicycles

Motorists will be taught how to drive around cyclists while bicycle riders will learn how to keep themselves safe through a campaign planned by the transport authority.

The campaign would also address other dangerous road habits such as speeding and drink-driving with the aim of making roads safer all round, a spokesman from Transport Malta said. A date for its launch has yet to be established.

Data released by the National Statistics Office, show that 457 people were involved in traffic accidents between April and June. Five pedestrians and a driver – four men and two women – died in the second quarter of the year.

Recently, the wife of cyclist Cliff Micallef, who lost his life in a hit-and-run incident on the Coast Road two years ago, called on the authorities to take action to make roads safer. “We can’t let people die like this... Roads remain unsafe for cyclists and not enough has been done to stop drink-driving,” Shirley Micallef had said.

Her 45-year-old husband died on July 30, 2009 after he was run over by a car in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, about 20 metres from the entrance to the White Rocks Complex, minutes into his morning exercise routine.

He had been training for the LifeCycle Challenge to raise funds for the renal unit at Mater Dei Hospital. Anthony Taljana, 21, was charged with causing the fatality while under the influence of alcohol. His case is still pending.

Bicycle lanes have often been criticised as being unsafe, especially since they start and stop erratically. Transport Malta, which is responsible for roads, explained that bicycle lanes were introduced in 2006 as part of its ongoing work to promote a shift to alternative transport modes.

“The introduction of these cycle lanes, as with most projects, posed challenges to Transport Malta including, among others, educating the public on the use of the cycling infrastructure, promoting a cultural change from the use of the motor vehicle to cycling and identifying stretches of road, the width of which can accommodate a cycle lane, according to standard specifications...

“It is pertinent to note that old roads, such as the Coast Road, were not built with cycle lanes in mind... Due to the road width restrictions along stretches of this road, it was not possible to have a completely continuous cycle lane. Such is standard practice across all countries and, where cycle lanes are not provided, cyclists are urged to proceed with caution until the next stretch resumes,” the spokesman said, adding that new roads constructed over the past years had cycle lanes built-in on the pavement.

Source: Times of Malta

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