Use coronavirus outbreak to promote cycling – NGOs

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Coronavirus outbreak should be used to promote cycling, non-governmental organisations Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar and the Bicycle Advocacy Group said in a joint statement.

The outbreak caused a partial lockdown in the country, with educational institutions closed until June, non-essential shops closed until further notice among other measures which were taken to curb the spread of the virus.

This has led to a drop in the air pollution level.

The two NGOs urged the government to promote walking and cycling as a means of mobility during this time. They highlighted that walking is one of the main contributors to total physical activity across all age groups. The NGOs pointed out that while gyms and other sport activities are not possible at this time, people who need to commute can walk to their destination.

Further, the bicycle lobby and the eNGO stressed on the importance of cycling saying that by promoting cycling one would avoid situations were bus stops are overcrowded.

“Most trips are int range between 2 and 5km and spring temperatures are ideal for cycling, while it was never as safe as now to cycle,” the statement reads.

Trips under 2 km take around 10 mins for an untrained cyclist while 15 minutes are needed for a 3km.

Apart from urging the government to promote alternative means of commuting, the NGOs said that bike dealers and bike rental companies could boost their dwindling profits by renting out existing bikes long-term to individuals or companies.

The NGOs called on the ministries and companies to hand out free vouchers for bike rentals to their employees and to acquire bikes and pedelecs themselves.

“To make cycling attractive, government needs to designate bicycle lanes on main thoroughfares in conjunction with experts from BAG.”

“The is the time for action which would benefit Malta long-term, helping to reduce obesity and improve health as well as reducing the rate of car use and pollution even after the crisis is over.”

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