Transport Minister Ian Borg has tried to deflect criticism over the tal-Balal bicycle lanes by saying that no matter what the government does, someone always complains.
This newsroom asked Borg for his opinion on cyclists’ criticism about the new bicycle lanes painted on parts of tal-Balal road, which lies between Naxxar and San Gwann.
“In this country, if we widen the roads we complain. If we do not widen the roads enough people complain. If we arrange the bicycle lanes, we are criticised.”
“The Bicycle Advocacy Group (BAG) wishes for segregated routes everywhere, and I had previously said that it is not realistic to have segregated routes everywhere.”
The new bicycle lanes around the tal-Balal roundabouts have attracted the criticism of a number of cyclists, and the NGO Bicycle Advocacy Group urged cyclists not to use these lanes for their own safety.
The bicycle advocacy group said that the green paint is not a safe substitute and is ‘substandard.’
“Apart from the confusion for car drivers, such design will increase the danger to people travelling on bicycles” the group said in a Facebook post. BAG urged Infrastructure Malta and Transport Malta to provide cyclists with safe and direct access on roads before more accidents occur.
Photos show the new lanes, marked out in green paint and crisscrossing the road. One particular lane leads directly into the wall of the popular club Liquid. The post received a lot of traction, and numerous comments criticising the bicycle lanes. One post states “it would have been better not to do any bike lanes altogether.” After the uproar on the social media, the bike lane was “corrected”
Minister Ian Borg, on the other hand, called the new bicycle lane “a very good project.”
Commenting on the green lane, Borg said that this helps the cyclists and others to exit the roundabout, and that such a system is also used abroad. “Ideally we see how all road users can share the space properly.”
When asked why one particular bicycle lane leads directly into a wall, Borg argued that the lane does not lead into the wall.
“The lane is there to help you go around the roundabout and to cross the road. If people are saying that the lane ends at the wall just to comment or make fun, then it is in their hands to say so.”
He explained that the Ministry does listen and take note of criticism, but it is them who take the final decision.
“I wish to see more people who cycle wearing helmets and safety equipment, and these are issues we need to have more consultations on together.”