Did you know that cyclists live two years longer than non-cyclists and one bicycle commuter can help in reducing 750 kilos of CO2 emission per year? Still, our beautiful island nearly has more cars than the people living in it and most Maltese people have totally abandoned bicycles. So how did we get here, and how do we get out of it?
Well, the answer lies in many problems that the cyclists face on a daily basis that make this useful practice untenable and difficult to sustain.
Where the rest of the world preferred bicycles from cars on World Bicycle Day this week on Monday 3rd June, Malta’s gridlock carried on, with the Air Quality Index continuing to get worse on a daily basis
So, why are we failing to make Malta more easily accessible to pedestrians and cyclists? Here are nine things that cyclists in Malta face on a regular basis while pedalling around.
1. Ain’t no age for road rage
Who wants to have that kind of negativity early morning? It’s a fact that most of the car drivers don’t give any regard to cyclists and usually end up cursing or swearing at them when they ask for even half of the space they need. God forbid a driver actually has to wait more than three seconds for a cyclist!
And why would you subject yourself to all that rage while balancing on top of a flimsy bike?
2. The search for the lane will drive you insane
OK, so Malta has some cycling lanes, and some roads are finally being planned with cyclists in mind. But that’s not nearly enough.
To make matters even worse, most of the cycling lanes we used to have are also now being converted into shared lanes, giving even less space to the bicyclists.
3. Lack of bicycle racks (no parking)
Just like every other vehicle, bikers get no slack when it comes to finding somewhere to leave their mode of transport.
Even if you accumulate that last ounce of courage in you and pedal your way to the office, you will most probably end up having no space to park your two-wheel steed as there are very few bicycle racks around the island. Finding a rack outside a supermarket or any other place is a miracle that should not be taken for granted.
4. From racks to shops
To add insult to injury, many cyclists are facing the problem of finding the rack as a support for a display shop by street hawkers.
5. Wake me up when September ends
One should not be ashamed to admit the fact that we all get lazy whenever we think about putting our bicycles to use.
Even if we just want to grab tnejn irkotta, we end up burning fuel rather than calories.
6. NoBuddy for you
It’s frustrating to be in the situation when you realise that you are the only one who wants to buy a bicycle and go for a ride.
Many people want to make a mark but end up postponing the plan as they don’t want to go solo.
7. ‘Wannabe’ cyclists everywhere
The whole world is suffering from the ‘wannabe’ disease.
If you do something different, you get more likes on your Facebook page. Without knowing the proper rules and regulations of cycling, it’s these people’s onus to make their own and others’ lives safe on the road.
8. You’re going to sweat, but you won’t be able to shower
The worst case scenario you can have is coming to your office all sweaty and stinky and cursing your decision of picking your bicycle today.
More business owners and office premises need to have shower facilities to provide a solution to these problems. There is nothing like reaching office in time, taking a shower and feeling fresh for the full day. Wouldn’t it be great!
9. Incentives? What incentives?
Just taking a little inspiration from our fellow EU neighbours, the Maltese government needs to give incentives for riding your bicycle for work or other purposes.
From the tax-free cycle to discounts, there haven’t been enough schemes by the government to promote cycling around the island.
Malta knows that the way population, pollution, construction and traffic problems are growing, we might very soon reach the point of no return. Before we take that one step closer to the edge, it’s high time to make some amends.