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Transport Minister’s ‘vision’ for roads was discredited in 1960s, say Greens

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Transport minister Aaron Farrugia is promoting mobility policies that were discredited across the European continent 50 or 60 years ago, the Greens have charged.

The ADPD was reacting to Farrugia’s dismissal of criticism about poorly designed and maintained cycling lanes on Maltese roads.

Farrugia said that cycling advocacy groups wanted to “prioritise bicycles over cars” and argued that Malta’s lack of space meant that compromises were inevitable when designing new roads.

In a statement on Saturday, the ADPD said that the minister’s comments were evidence of the government’s lack of vision.

“It is absolutely false that the construction of more flyovers, including the current confusion surrounding the airport as well as that being proposed for Msida, and the haphazard widening of roads will lead to more mobility ‘efficiency’. What leads the Minister to these mistaken ideas?” asked ADPD secretary general Ralph Cassar.

“The minister has failed to notice that the transport policy he is promoting has already failed in Europe in the 60s and the 70s – far from being a ‘modern policy’,” he added. 

Cassar rattled off a series of mobility initiatives that have been successfully implemented overseas, from more pedestrianisation to roads reserved for public and alternative transport, bicycle super-highways and car-free zones in towns and villages.

“A large chunk of the space currently monopolised by cars should be returned to the public, bikes and public transport, and through the professional planting of trees in order to improve aesthetically our urban environment. This is what our quality of life deserves – otherwise we will remain the country that lacks appeal and where everything goes,” he said.

ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo agreed, noting that politicians like Farrugia “have been promoting private car travel and badly designed roads instead of pushing for alternative and cheaper means of transport.”

Cacopardo noted that the government-commissioned National Master Plan 2025 had found that half of all car trips in Malta are less than 15 minutes long. While that should make it easier to pave the way for alternative means of transport, authorities were instead explicitly ignoring the master plan they had commissioned themselves, the ADPD leader said.

“We do not need more reports to state the obvious because we already have all the data we need. It is the action that is lacking due to the massive obstacle put forward by politicians over the years,” Cacopardo noted.

Cassar also pointed out that reducing car use would also dramatically slash Malta’s greenhouse gas emissions, given that transport is the country’s main source of pollution.

“As in many other cases the Government’s rhetoric on climate emergency does not translate into action,” the ADPD member said.

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