Maltese cyclist handing in his car’s number plates

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

Malta: Quirky road signs you rarely or never see on the road

Not that we take care of them signs sticking around when we drive, but they’re… interesting?


Disclaimer: High chances of cultural shock if you continue reading. You’ve been warned


Few years ago, I got into an internet discussion about this:

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The national speed limit sign

Was grumpling on how people slow down to less than 60km/h when our national speed limit is 80km/h.

You might not be surprised the person I was arging with had not idea what that sign even meant. Weeehaaa, Malta, ladies and gents.

Anyway, moving on from the tangent, another set of lesser known signs are those with a band of narrow lines. These are quite relatable and maybe you, Malteser, can recognise them:

 

Incidently this means no overtaking, which even I forgot:

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Ok, that’s it with the informative stuff of signs we already see around. The next one a sign that would be dreaded by all lorry drivers or those vans stuffed to the brim.

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You don’t see them at all these days and so, a neat little refresher if they even intent to stick some of them up.


Next up we got the freaky ones:

 

Ye, the last one doesn’t mean airport *grins*


 

Next up we find the never seen ones:

 

This one is meant to indicate that you can stop your car for not more than:

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Here are some quitessentially British signs which I never seem to see around:

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maybe the safe height one does show up now and again.


 

Last but not least these:

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Apparently, they serve to demark an area where the road has priorty over crossing or intersecting traffic.


 

If you’re Maltese, have you seen these signs before?

If you’re not, are they used in your country?

Let me know in the comments down below

 

Malta: Lack of Breathing Space

Another Maltese tale, or maybe nightmare.


In Europe after the world wars, city planning got modernised, rethought and everything rebuilt. I have visited a huge array of cities around the european continent, all with their own beauty and charm.

London was the last one I visited and was in awe of its size, but mostly its use of spaces. Even though it’s such an old city, roads are wide with proportional pavements and full of serene spaces. It’s admirable that they didn’t succumb to the greedy claws of over-development

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Wish that I could say the same within our little island. While development of towering tall buildings doesn’t scare me, the lack of surrounding infrastructure does. Once again, Malta got swept by modern nuances but failed to free herself from the chains of old.

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Tigne Point over-development

Highrise is now the hip trend in housing especially in touristic and prime areas. Paceville is becoming a true testament to this, Pender Gardens (or better apartments) being the latest huge development. Sadly this is being built on a two-way single lane road which is engulfed with traffic more often than not. Madness! Where is the public garden near each big development?

Maybe, just maybe, it is too much to ask from our little island, but I dream it can be something like this:

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I’m not expecting the vertical forests, but a similar layout would be a breath of fresh air.

Why should we have 4 story flats like pin-balls one next to the other? When will it stop?

In some old small localities, the village core has very narrow roads (most without a pavement) and what do you find right after this? More development, block upon block of house hordes and faint flats. No respite for the Maltese citizen.

Here’s an example, H’Attard (which I tried to circle in red), is a sought after place to live with apartments costinga minimum of 250k Euro finished (above average price for the island):

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I’m sure I missed a spot or two, and over-ran some roads but you can get the general idea on why I’m rambling so much. I can say with a degree of certainty that all of the fields in the picture are private, so don’t get fooled by the ‘greenery’

If you think the roads are pleasurable to walk in, here’s a close up of the black boxed area:

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Little to no trees except for some front porch, narrow roads baring parked cars in the residential areas.

Will we continue developing mindlessly in the future? Seems like it till now.

Who will make all this stop? Sadly we don’t have an answer yet.


Would you live in a place like this?

Tell us what you think down in the comments!