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Govt mulls plans to keep traffic down after pandemic

Stephen Ignacio

The Gibraltar Government is considering new traffic arrangements to help maintain the reduced levels of motorised traffic on Gibraltar’s roads after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.

This comes as the air quality around Gibraltar has improved following the lockdown largely due to the reduction in traffic, with reductions in construction and ship repair also contributing.

Speaking at Friday’s press conference, the Minister for Traffic and Transport, Vijay Daryanani, welcomed the reduction of cars on Gibraltar’s roads and said: “We must try to keep this up.”

“I’m hoping that when we start to have some form of normality people can be encouraged to walk or cycle whenever possible,” he said.

“The Government is looking at some new traffic arrangements to make this possible and more attractive to our people.”

On Friday, the Environmental Safety Group called on the community to support any new measures introduced by the Government to limit a return to the levels of traffic seen in Gibraltar prior to the Covid-19 crisis.

The ESG said Gibraltar should take the opportunity this “pause” has imposed to try and make real changes on impacts that affect the community’s health, quality of life and climate change.

“Excessive traffic in our small town is a critical issue and it is hoped that Government has been brainstorming to see what immediate changes can be introduced to limit the full impact from a return to full-on domestic, commercial, construction, and incoming border traffic,” the group said in a statement.

“A number of cities around Europe are already rolling out new measures to reduce motorised traffic.”

“The benefits that come from clean air and calm roads, have been experienced by us all during the pandemic, indeed with many commenting on how positive the improvements have been.”

“We hope the community will get behind any new measures introduced by Government with these aims in mind.”

Improvements in air quality have been reported across Europe amid the coronavirus lockdown. 

 

A Finland-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) report found a 10% reduction in the average level of particulate matter pollution across Europe.

These decreases had resulted in an estimated 11,000 avoided deaths related to air pollution across Europe, including approximately 1,752 in the UK – the second-highest number in the study behind Germany (2,083).

CREA researchers said there had been a 37% drop in power generation from coal across Europe as a result of the lockdowns, while oil consumption had fallen by some 33%.

Other avoided health impacts included 6,000 fewer new cases of asthma in children, 1.3 million fewer days of work absence, 1,900 avoided emergency room visits causes by asthma attacks, and 600 fewer premature births, the study said.