Mgarr Bypass


The Mgarr Bypass is another lost opportunity. Works completed in 2022 resulted in a downgrade of safety for all road users, excluding car users who are inherently protected by their own car and concrete barriers. This comes at the cost of exposing pedestrians and bicycle users to all sorts of danger originating from other vehicles. The bicycle lanes are unusable and unsafe, with rumble strips placed on the inside of the bicycle lane. The bicycle lane places bicycle users next to speeding cars with no protection at all through segregation.

Before the project started, Rota offered its suggestions to IM who blatantly ignored all our suggestions (see section below) and instead invested in unusable and horrendous infrastructure with the excuse of needing to take up land for bicycle lanes. This is a lie and an excuse. The space is there if they want to use it well, but Infrastructure Malta seemingly does not care about sustainable mobility and the creation of beautiful, usable, and safe roads which offer a pleasant experience to all users.

We collaborated with Times of Malta to showcase how unusable this road is. Follow more in the article Danger on the road to Mġarr: bicycle lane forces cyclists into traffic.

PS: In high speed roads such as bypasses, the correct infrastructure is segregating bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways from car lanes with the use of, preferably, trees. Trees offer a pleasant experience for all users and also offer shade. Other physical separation techniques such as planters, concrete blocks or metal barriers can be used as long as the bicycle and pedestrian lanes are physically separated.

Our recommendation

The images below visualise our recommendations for the Mgarr Bypass. Note that these renders are at the narrowest width of the road, meaning that all lanes can be widened at wider areas of the road. Our recommendation shows that the pedestrian walkway and bicycle lane is physically segregated. The bicycle lane does not need to be on both sides of the roads. Through physical segregation, the bicycle lane can be bi-directional and this saves space. We highlight that this proposal does not necessitate the expropriation of agricultural land as is reported by Infrastructure Malta. In certain cases, the pavement and the bicycle lane can also be segregated and merged together.

The following render provides a visual representation of how the road was, in contrast with our proposal, and how it was finally implemented.

Comparison with Netherlands

During our analysis, similar rural roads to Mġarr’s were identified in the Netherlands, such as this one between Haarlem and Amsterdam. The road’s maximum width of 10m is narrower than Mġarr’s few “narrow” parts of 12m. Nonetheless, the Dutch used the road space efficiently. Since wider lanes induce speeding, they narrowed down the 2-lane road to a ~6.5m-wide carriageway as a traffic calming measure, and incorporated a segregated two-way bike path, with a buffer. This is all similar to our proposal, with cycling infrastructure being very possible in Mġarr-Mosta’s road, and pretty much everywhere else around almost all of Malta’s major roads.


The bypass was notoriously known for dangerous overtaking. One of the reasons was the 4m wide lanes, allowing card to pick up speed and allows ample space for overtaking. Narrower lanes are a good alternative, but instead we are wasting space with concrete barriers, and even wider lanes for no reason at all.


Concluding Remarks

Malta needs better planning and a change in trajectory for sustainable mobility. The Mgarr bypass is yet another failed opportunity to shift towards a multi-modal sustainable transport approach and remains an imminent hazard for pedestrians and bicycle users. Sustainable mobility has once again been completely ignored with substandard designs that put people’s lives at risk. Infrastructure Malta has the power and resources to make Maltese roads usable for all users with just a bit of better planning, but instead continuously opt for such decisions. Malta follows no known standard for bicycle infrastructure, and to our knowledge, no standard for Malta exists. The state of the art in this regard are the Dutch CROW guidelines. We call on Infrastructure Malta to change their narrative for new projects. We do not need to take up land for bicycle lanes, what we need is better planning and a sore need for better utilisation of space. High speed roads require segregation to ensure pedestrian and bicycle users’ safety. We are disappointed that tax payer’s money is being spent on projects that are failing their users and putting people’s lives at risk.


there isn’t any road – narrow or wide – that can’t be made safe and attractive for cycling. The solutions aren’t always politically simple, but physical space is rarely an insurmountable problem

quote from Cycling Fallacies