Govt traffic measures for cyclists ‘lack depth’, GSD says
The GSD said recent traffic measures announced by the Gibraltar Government cannot be effectively introduced and enforced because they are “not joined up” and “lack depth”.
The party was reacting after the Minister for Transport, Paul Balban, published a revised Highway Code and announced new rules requiring drivers to give at least 1.5m of leeway when overtaking cyclists.
The party said the “determination and ambition” shown by Mr Balban in his support for cycling was not matched by Government support.
Shadow Transport and Environment Minister Elliott Phillips MP said: “Tinkering at the edges of transport policy without wide consultation, detailed planning, stress testing and the provision of improved infrastructure such as roads, cycle lanes, and better public transport is simply not good enough.”
“Gibraltar has a unique, challenging and limited geography and therefore much more radical thinking must go into ensuring that all road users can be accommodated.”
“We must ensure that our number one priority is the safety of our citizens in moving about our streets and roads.”
“We must also ensure that our infrastructure is agile and can accommodate pedestrians, cyclist and e-scooter lanes safely alongside motorists.”
The GSD noted that the 1.5 metre rule announcement in relation to cyclists has resulted in much public debate about how practical the rule is and why the financial penalty for non-compliance appears to be three times more than the UK and European countries such as Ireland.
It said there was agreement that motorists and cyclists must have mutual respect for one another's space, but added that many of Gibraltar’s as currently designed were poorly equipped for this rule to be properly managed, respected and enforced.
The GSD said “well thought out infrastructure and better roads” were needed to accommodate all types of roads users which would make the new rule easier to respect and enforce.
In respect of the Highway Code, the GSD said the Government appeared to have applied the UK code to Gibraltar given the two have similar legal systems.
But it cautioned that Gibraltar’s infrastructure and roads had “suffered years of neglect with no or very little modernisation or improvements”.
Give Gibraltar’s “unique and challenging geography”, the GSD said much more should have gone into preparing a Highway Code and that, while much of the UK code was relevant here, it should be properly tailored for Gibraltar needs.
“We need to be bold and radical, but we also need proper planning,” Mr Phillips added.
“The Government has failed to learn the lessons from the public outcry over the Line Wall Road disaster which showed a complete lack of planning and poor execution.”
“It will be recalled that the Chief Minister had to publicly apologise for the former transport minister's appalling handling of that project.”
“Changes in transport laws and regulations must be underpinned and matched by well-designed, well planned and modern transport infrastructure which will provide the public with confidence in the safety and availability of the alternatives to car use.”