Scores of cyclists took to Main Street yesterday evening as Gibraltar’s first two official cycle lanes within the City Walls were officially inaugurated.
Led by the Minister for Traffic, Paul Balban, they rode their bikes up Main Street and back down along Irish Town, the two routes chosen for this pilot scheme which aims to encourage sustainable forms of transport.
The cycle lanes have been the focus of much criticism in recent days, particularly over concerns that the tight space on both roads could put pedestrian safety at risk.
But yesterday, those concerns were shrugged off by Mr Balban.
“This is a pilot scheme so we’ll look at it carefully and see how it goes,” he said.
“We’re asking cyclists to be sensible and respect pedestrians, and for pedestrians to respect the cycle lanes and the cyclists.”
“Hopefully we can get some symbiosis and live together.”
“The most important thing is respect.”
The new lanes have time and direction restrictions, designed to minimise the potential for collisions with pedestrians and other cyclists.
The lanes will only be operational between 7pm and 9.15am Monday to Friday, and 5pm to 9.15am Sunday and Saturday.
Main Street cycle traffic can only flow south bound and the Irish Town traffic north bound.
Mr Balban said the pilot scheme would hopefully lead to other cycle lanes around Gibraltar.
“This is the start of more cycling lanes around Gibraltar and increasing awareness among road users that there are other people out there,” he said.
“This is not just about the bicycle, it’s about sustainable transport.”
“We’re trying to encourage people to leave their cars at home and walk or use bicycles and the free bus service.”
“That’s the bigger picture.”
The new cycle lane in Gibraltar has been welcomed by some bicycle users who have been weary of cycling on the Rock’s busy roads.
“I think it’s fantastic as a first initiative,” said Chris Grech, a keen cyclist and committee member of Gibraltar Cycling Association.
“A lot of people feel that cycling in Gibraltar is unsafe because of the volume of traffic that we have.”
“Main Street and Irish Town is a perfect place to pilot a new scheme.”
“Although there’s been quite a stir on social media about it, what we’re seeing here is that, while cycling has been around for a while, this is the impetus for the cycling community to come together.”
FULL STORY IN OUR PRINT AND E-EDITIONS