Malta’s proposed Msida Creek flyover project will continue a pattern of eroding public space to make room for motor vehicles, an analysis by a local architect shows.
Amid controversy over the project, architect Steve Montebello embarked on a process to provide the public with empirical data to inform either their support or criticism for the project.
Available for free on behance, the urban form analysis looks at the space earmarked for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and parking in the creek from when the area first underwent land reclamation, till today, and in comparison with its proposed future.
The transformation of Msida Creek from a beach to a traffic hotspot is clear. Since the 1950s, the total space for public use has dwindled from 59% of the area to just 39.8%. It’s set to decrease further with the future plans projected to have around 34% of the space earmarked for pedestrian use.
According to Montebello’s analysis, the new plans will see 25,100 sqm set aside for vehicular use, 18,500 sqm for pedestrians, 8,700 sqm for parking, 1,900 sqm for bus lanes, and around 190 sqm for cyclists. It is an increase in each department except for space earmarked for buses.
Using the data to back up his argument, Montebello says that the government should not be reexamining the current proposal but rather introducing a complete rethinking of urban form.
“[The project should] reimagine it as a public space for all, a space that is liveable and enjoyable to occupy and inhabit,” he said.
“A long-term and earnest tackling of the mobility issues in Malta requires a complete rethinking of our streets as public spaces, and the movement within them as movement of people and not of personal vehicles. In other words, the amenity of our streets to walking, cycling, and public transport must be restored.”
“A sustainable way forward for Msida Creek ought to seek a symbiosis between professionals and the community through participatory planning, in-depth analysis, alternative mobility solutions and shifting the balance of the urban form towards more space for people.”
“What is needed is a reshuffling of those who are granted priority in our urban landscape; an urban design for people, not for vehicles. People: families, children, grandparents; you and me,” he continued.
What do you think of the report?