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Local businessman warns of impact of growing traffic

Eyleen Gomez

Stuart Hadley from EBike Gibraltar has warned of the adverse effects on local resident’s health, wellbeing, and quality of life there could be if traffic continues to pile up locally.

On average 100 new private vehicles are registered in Gibraltar a month for the past few years.

This does not take into account the number of goods vehicles, motorbikes or taxis or other vehicles that have also been registered during this period.

The statistics for 2019 do not include the later quarter of the year but also have on average 160 new registrations a month for all vehicles

Mr Hadley has pointed out that “‘intelligent transport’ is not a phrase often used when discussing the traffic situation in Gibraltar.”

He added that statistics dating back to 2015 indicated that there were 32,637 vehicles registered in Gibraltar.

“With a road network of 50 km this meant there were 654 vehicles for every kilometre of road making Gibraltar the country with the highest number of vehicles per km in the world… almost double the number of vehicles per km compared to the country with the second highest number at the time (Monaco 370 vehicles per km),” he said.

Mr Hadley has extrapolated from the information that from 2016 to March 2020 that new vehicle registrations were being added at a rate of 200-300 per month.

“So even allowing for scrappage it is probably safe to say that up to the first quarter of this year we were way in excess of 40,000 registered vehicles in Gibraltar. Then came the import duty embargo on petrol and diesel vehicles.”

“We don’t have to look that far forward to see the impact that 40-45,000 vehicles in Gibraltar is going to have on our health, our well-being and our general quality of life.”

“The road network is not growing and woe-betide anyone who tries to take any of it away.”

“Recent plans for a reconfiguration of traffic flow inside the city walls to encourage walking and alternative, sustainable transport modes such as cycling, have been reversed after a bitter and prolonged public outcry which included ferocious attacks on government officials including racial slurs.”

“It does seem somewhat perverse to believe that more cars on an already overwhelmed road network will lead to the utopian ambitions one would believe that a community wants for itself and for future generations. But with yet another thousand, or is it now two thousand, new vehicles hitting our streets since the import duty embargo, clearly this is the direction in which we head,” he added.

Mr Hadley feels like the community is rallying around different types of personal transport.

“On a positive note a growing section of the community is now rallying around a new personal transport mode which embraces the goals that seek to address climate and health concerns caused by dense traffic environments,” said Mr Hadley.

According to Mr Hadley the use of motor vehicles within city centres around the world is being challenged and the cities forced to provide a cleaner, greener, and improved quality of life for residents and visitors to enjoy.

“With the outcry against reducing the volume of non-essential vehicles within Gibraltar’s ancient city walls, the community have demonstrated that they are still committed to the traditional motor vehicle for their transport needs,” he said.

“The results of this we already know: journey times will become longer as congestion thickens; asthma and other respiratory health issues will increase as our air quality further degrades, and the stress of noise, gridlock and parking will continue to erode our well-being.”

“However, as mentioned previously, one lives in hope. Now that we have a vehicle which is a compact, emission-free, stress reducing and health inducing alternative to the car and motorbike, we have reason to believe a better way is just around the corner.”

“Combine this with a Smart Traffic System that can initially help us gather and provide the data sets required to achieve optimum decision making regarding utilising the traffic network, and in the long-term we might be saved.”

“In the short-term, for proud owners of all the shiny new SUVs, we hope they invested the import duty they saved on the upgraded interior option because they will be seeing a lot of it. And before complaining about increased journey times, consider that when in a car you do not get ‘stuck in traffic’. You are traffic.”