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[WATCH] Local councils urged to invest in cycling facilities

Safi and Birzebbugia the only two localities to take up a 2017 budget scheme where the government supports investment in bike racks and showers

miriam
Miriam Dalli
5 July 2017, 12:58pm
Edward Scicluna (right) with Owen Bonnici and Silvio Parnis. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Edward Scicluna (right) with Owen Bonnici and Silvio Parnis. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Local councils urged to invest in cycling facilities
Local councils have been urged to take up a 2017 budget scheme in which the government is matching investment made in bicycle racks and showers, 100%.

The only two localities to take up the scheme so far were Safi and Birzebbugia, where the councils are planning the installations of bicycle racks in their respective localities.

The budget allocation was of €150,000.

During the presentation of the cheques to the localities' mayors, finance minister Edward Scicluna, local government minister Owen Bonnici and parliamentary secretary Silvio Parnis called for a change in mentality in the way the Maltese commute.

Scicluna, who pledged a 2018 Budget with emphasis on infrastructure and "changing attitudes", said air pollution and traffic congestion had adverse effects on citizens' health and the economy.

A university study estimates that traffic congestion costs the island an annual €200 million - a figure which Scicluna insists is not conservative. In terms of health, Scicluna reminded that obesity costs the country over €36 million whilst 220 people have suffered early deaths as a result of illnesses caused by air pollution.

"The use of bicycles is one method that has an impact on all three. The Maltese enjoy a love relationship with the use of cars but it's time to stop hugging this mentality. We need to change our culture. It is an uphill struggle but we simply cannot keep on relying on the use of the car."

Scicluna added that Transport Malta would now focus on making the roads safe for cyclists. Whilst insisting that the government would see the scheme growing and more money allocated, he pointed to how the two localities were close to industrial estates in the area.

Justice minister Owen Bonnici, who praised the finance minister for his work, described Scicluna as being "instrumental in pushing forward this little big thing".

Scicluna is also currently contesting the election of PL deputy leader.

Bonnici said the government believed in investing in communities, the people's primary point of contact.

On his part, Silvio Parnis, parliamentary secretary for local government, reminded that the government had already launched different schemes to encourage the use of alternative modes of transport - such as the one year free public transport for students who turn 18.

miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...