Widening roads is bad use of EU funds, AD says

Government should be looking into concrete ways of reducing car use and ensuring residential roads are safe for all users, Carmel Cacopardo says

Widening roads encourages the use of private cars and goes against government's own climate change policy, AD says
Widening roads encourages the use of private cars and goes against government's own climate change policy, AD says

The “massive” road-widening project that the government has embarked on is a bad use of EU funds, Alternattiva Demokratika said on Tuesday.

Green Party leader Carmel Cacopardo said that the road-widening programme went against the government’s own climate change policy and the Paris agreement because it encouraged the continued use of private cars.

He was addressing a press conference on transport and mobility in Valletta as part of AD’s campaign ahead of local and European Parliament elections in May.

Cacopardo said it was a fact that road-widening exercises only led to more cars on the road, adding that matters were being made worse because pedestrian and bicycle lanes were not being prioritised when redesigning roads.

Asked whether Alternattiva would support the introduction of fiscal measures aimed at reducing car use, Cacopardo said it would, arguing that congestion charges could be one solution.

He welcomed news that government is actively working on a metro system for the country, but insisted that “we can’t talk about a metro without talking about other public transport and the use of the car”.

Referring to the governments transport master plan, Cacopardo said the “first basic point” in the document was that the use of cars needed to be reduced.

Moreover, he said the master plan also observed that 50% of trips lasted less than 15 minutes.

“This means we are talking about small distances,” he said, adding that Malta’s small size allowed for mobility to be mainly based on walking, bicycles and public transport.

AD believes sea transport is not being utilised to its full potential
AD believes sea transport is not being utilised to its full potential

Sea transport, he said, was also not being utilised to its full potential. 

Cacopardo said at the last election, AD was the only party talking about electrification and the phasing out of cars running on combustion engines.

He said AD was satisfied that Joseph Muscat adopted a similar position in September 2017 but a promised report on the shift to electricity had not yet been published.

Cacopardo urged government to publish the report and set a date that is not too far in the future.

Electrification, however, would not solve everything, he said. “It depends what source of energy is used to charge the cars,” he said.

If electricity is produced by the power station we would be simply transferring emissions from cars to Delimara, albeit at lower levels, he noted.

Cacopardo called for higher subsidies in public transport, welcoming the suggestion floated by the Prime Minister for a completely free public transport system.

“That could be one solution but the country also needs more bicycle lanes and residential roads need to be made safer for those that use them, including residents and bicycle users,” Cacopardo said, insisting on a 30km/h speed limit in residential areas.

More pedestrian areas to encourage socialisation and use of open spaces will give more life to villages and towns, he added.

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