The Government regrets the latest statement by the ESG calling on Government to revisit and reverse its decision in respect of the out-of-hours cycle lanes implemented earlier this year. The Government regrets that the ESG of all NGOs and organisations should, at the first signs of any resistance and teething problems in these very early stages, beat a retreat on something as important to our environment as this.
This comes at a time where cycling is increasingly being seen by many forward-thinking environmental groups as a potential solution and perhaps the best and quickest solution to help reduce air pollution considerably within the urban environment.
Paul Balban, Minister for Traffic, said that “no change worth making is ever going to happen without some resistance or challenge. I believe that it is important that we stay the course on this initiative, which is commonplace in other cities, and that we focus more resources on enforcement of the cycle lanes and cycling discipline. The Highway Code places obligations on cyclists in much the same way as it does on motorists and it is important that we do not forget the importance of enforcing the law in this regard.
“It is also my view that this is not just a problem of enforcement or one we try to fix simply by throwing more resources at it. I believe that we all owe a duty to ourselves and this community to give this initiative a chance. In the same way, as we are calling on cyclists to respect the operating hours and direction of travel of the lanes and to cycle sensibly at those times, so too must pedestrians give this a chance by respecting the lane when it is in operation.”
The Government is determined that as part of its environmental ambitions, one of the strategies that this community must deploy is the encouragement of the use of alternative forms of transport – cycling is one of those alternatives and one that is strongly suited to the local context.
Mr Balban added that “the number of utility cyclists in Gibraltar is already significant and on the rise. This will bring with it its own challenges, but they are challenges we will happily rise to tackle as I believe that an increase in cycling yields real and important benefits for us all in the immediate, medium and long-term”.