Joe, a 35-year-old native Maltese citizen is daring to give up his beloved car and make cycling his commuting medium of choice. After getting frustrated in the “back to school traffic” around two years ago, he rode his bike to work and never looked back since.
Joe ended up using his car perhaps twice a week on the weekends. During our interview, he told Word of Osiris that “the cost to keep [the car], compared to the benefits, did not justify keeping the car”. Many react in disbelief to his decision, but after some consideration, they see eye to eye on the matter. He definitely recommends cycling to work for anyone living within 6 to 10km from their workplace. Having shower facilities available would be the cherry on the cake. He added “it only takes me two minutes longer cycling than driving to work in normal traffic. In comparison then [sic], driving to work in the “back to school traffic” take me twice as long as it takes me when I cycle”.
Therefore, Joe is handing over the number plates to his personal car, only keeping a shared family car for errands.
Talking with Joe about cycling in Malta, he sincerely recommends staying sharp while cycling and “kind of expect the worst so you might be able to anticipate a situation before it is too late”. Having said that, he also acknowledges that there are hundreds of motorists who show cyclists respect. He continues by saying that many infrastructural initiatives are “impractical to say the least and at times down right [sic] dangerous”. Joe argues that cyclist safety is always a compromise and never a priority, and when cyclists choose not to use precarious infrastructure they are labeled as downright law-breakers, ending up giving “a wrong message to motorists”.
In a spree of sincerity, Joe told us that he doesn’t think Malta will become a bicycle haven anytime soon. He encourages the practice of teaching children the benefits of cycling and introducing government incentives for employers who install showering facilities in their workplace. With these initiatives we could hope for more bicycles on the road, and the dismantling of the ever-looming traffic gridlock.
As a friend of Joe once asked him “…why on a country so small we [sic] need to go everywhere by car when we are barely the size of a large city”. Cycling helped Joe lose weight, improved his metabolism, while also giving him a sense of accomplishment once he arrives at work.
For the European Mobility Week, try change your habits and explore other alternatives.
Grab your bicycle, and whizz off.
Big thanks goes to Joe for taking time to answer our questions. The whole interview can be viewed here
Featured Image: www.wikipedia.org