An article circulating online details how a woman riding a bicycle was allegedly hit numerous times by a moving vehicle and was ultimately beaten up when the couple emerged from their car. This sort of behavior is unacceptable and Rota demands that the authorities take the necessary steps to ensure that any offenders are brought to justice.

Roads are there to be used by all road users and should be designed in such a way that the safety of all is guaranteed. When it comes to bicycle infrastructure, Rota maintains its position that the best option for high speed areas is full segregation and connected bicycle lanes. Segregated bicycle lanes add protection to people on bicycles from cars by increasing the passing distance, reducing risk and increasing safety. Maltese roads are predominantly designed for cars and segregation for bicycles or traffic calming measures where this is not possible is rare. Until we see a shift in the infrastructural approach, there are a number of measures which can be put into place to improve road safety for all. Roads must be adequately lit, have the correct signage and road markings, have CCTV cameras installed in any notoriously unsafe areas and most importantly, stricter enforcement. We must keep in mind that a person on a bicycle is more vulnerable than a person driving a car and thus more needs to be done to ensure the former’s safety.

The Gender Cycling Gap

Women are substantially less likely than men to cycle in countries with low bicycle transport mode share and accidents such as the one in discussion rub salt to the wound. A study by Deakin University found that consistent with gender differences in risk aversion, women bicycle commuters preferred to use routes with maximum separation from motorized traffic. However, this goes beyond solely risk aversion as further research shows that women face a higher risk of encroachment (near misses) when cycling. A survey by Sustrans in the UK confirms that segregated cycling lanes and traffic calming measures are essential to increase bicycle use among women and close the gender cycling gap.

Respect on the road

Car users must respect the more vulnerable road users such as bicycle users and pedestrians. The reality is that the majority of roads do not have segregated bicycle lanes and adequate space for sidewalks. Therefore, we encourage car users to be more aware of vulnerable road users. Always check your mirrors and blind spots, avoid distractions such as mobile phones, follow the rules of the road and provide the appropriate space when overtaking a person on a bicycle. If the road has two lanes, you can change lanes to afford adequate space for the bicycle. Bicycle users must also respect road etiquette and make sure that they are visible by having adequate lighting installed for when it gets dark. For cars and bicycles to co-exist on the roads, mutual respect is essential.

What to do in such situations?

In the case where an accident, or as mentioned above, an act of violence is committed, it is vital that any evidence is recorded. Take photos of the area, check if anyone recorded the incident or look for any CCTV cameras. Check if any witnesses were present and collect their contact details. Next, go to the nearest polyclinic and get your injuries documented and finally file a police report. It is of the utmost importance that incidents such as the one that took place yesterday are reported immediately, bringing criminals and road bullies to justice.