24th March 2023
The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast
EPISODE 323: Bike Advocacy Woes In Motor-mad Malta
SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles
HOST: Carlton Reid
GUEST: James Craig Wightman
TOPICS: Flush with EU cash Malta is deepening its car dependency by building wider roads, dystopian flyovers and paying just lip service to sustainable modes of transport. Urbanist bike commuter James Craig Wightman shows Carlton Reid what it’s like to live on a tiny island that’s being eaten alive by car use.
Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 323 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show is engineered on Friday 24th of March 2023.
David Bernstein 0:28
The spokesman cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Turn has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit wwwternbicycles.com. That’s t e r n bicycles.com. To learn more.
Carlton Reid 1:03
I’m Carlton Reid. And that buzz you may be able to hear is the buzz of a sleeper train. I was a few minutes ago in Syracuse or Sicily. I was waiting to start the journey to Rome. It’s now started, and I bushed after a 75 mile folding bike ride from the ferry port at Pozzallo. I got there from Malta, and today’s show is all about the amazing car centrism of this 16 mile long by nine mile wide, Mediterranean island. My guest is British aviation executive James Craig Weidman, a 30 year resident of Malta. He took me for a bike ride and infrastructure Safari bike ride around the island trying to work out which bits of very wide bike paths were actually usable. I gawked at the multi lane highways and superfluous flyovers on this tiny island. Please be aware that there are some loud noises on this podcast including roaring engines on a racetrack road and daytime firework bombs at a saints feast day. Here we go. So let’s just let’s just fixate on the ground here. So we’re in st Julian’s, which seems to be like the hotel
James Craig Wightman 2:37
right December what I try and do they’ll take you far from nice touristy bits and bits please don’t get to see
Carlton Reid 2:48
so we’ve seen two cyclists already. Mountain bikers obviously out doing a trail somewhere. Okay. But that’s that they were part of that point. 7% And they were the first people we saw So we’ve seen a healthy proportion of the multi cycling population that
James Craig Wightman 3:11
we had years ago we had
Carlton Reid 3:15
Oh, you’re increasing. That’s that’s positive.
James Craig Wightman 3:17
I mean, at least it’s keeping up the top of the
Carlton Reid 3:21
water I mean, horrible thing to say here. But is there a decreasing of those numbers by killing?
James Craig Wightman 3:29
Not really actually very rarely fatalities? I think so. Perhaps because we’re candy back to repeat ourselves.
Carlton Reid 3:44
And you know where the danger spots are? You’re not going to go on the I mean, I’ve been motorways those so you could go on those major highways and we will because there are no other way sometimes getting through right oh, just knit behind you that because the car coming. The motorists do you think you’re freaks? Do they think what the hell is that up ahead? Or they just
James Craig Wightman 4:13
Yeah, it’s very much like the UK anywhere to where Britain when he wrote the Empire I think inherited the same
Carlton Reid 4:25
approach. But James, you’re now in the EU so you should be more Dutch. Oh, yeah. Well, and and maybe even Italian and German you should be more European in your in the country’s appreciation of cycling. Okay.
James Craig Wightman 4:45
Yeah, we should
Carlton Reid 4:49
see you when you are new getting me out here and you’re telling me to you know which roads to avoid and go this way and you were saying Google Maps doesn’t route you so bad You see the bees this path that way on the end isn’t is it marked so a lot of these things are just actually lucky yeah that’s it that’s a UK cycling sign oh now on a metal cycle track okay
Unknown Speaker 5:16
Carlton Reid 5:21
on the what sorry say that again and and tell me what that is
James Craig Wightman 5:30
it’s basically the natural kind of here which
Carlton Reid 5:37
is it volcanic what is it that doesn’t look like limestone that’s that’s weird you’ve
got an incredibly noisy generator Why is that
James Craig Wightman 5:58
so bad percentage of edible fish
Carlton Reid 6:05
so it’s still a mark cycle I’m gonna come on to a what an effective road? Sunday work so writing Sunday it will that make a difference? Well well, Jane, I’ve been impressed so far. You were you were you were you were telling me Porky’s about how bad it is here. This is this is okay. This is something
could I mean this is is this going somewhere to somewhere? No. So it’s nice, but it’s leisure but this is not something you could use going to work or anything? I mean, how many people are living here? 500,000 people?
James Craig Wightman 6:51
It’s roughly that Yeah, yeah, we’re just we’re just on the edge of Hoffman.
Carlton Reid 6:55
Is that is that one of the reasons why it’s so hairy and dicey on the roads and that there’s the the density of people here is just immense.
James Craig Wightman 7:05
There is there is an increase in density but we’ve got a big problem because we’ve made it easier for people to drive we’ve made wider roads rather than narrow one where everybody’s is narrowing roads make people come down and slow down. We’ve actually increased the widths of them sometimes at the cost of cycling lanes
Carlton Reid 7:22
to cycle lanes that were there had been ripped out
James Craig Wightman 7:26
thinned down to almost nothing and you’ll see a couple more of those today.
Carlton Reid 7:29
And when we’re saying when you’re saying cycle ends you mean paint or you mean concrete thinking okay? So even the what would be considered to be one of our word crap Yes. cycling infrastructure has been made crapper
James Craig Wightman 7:41
Yes. Very much. So yeah. Okay.
Carlton Reid 7:45
There are policies to say we want to increase cycling it’s just that their lip service very much. Right. But when we’re coming down here, and I was saying, Yeah, this is like really quite high quality and then you were telling me Porky’s because we need to go Dutch here. Yeah. The very fact that you are now or you have been for many years EU? Yeah, that should be really really ramping up. It is a no pressure from say the EU to say come on Malta, you’ve got to you’ve got to do more Dutch. Unfortunate and more perhaps,
James Craig Wightman 8:20
this changing now they’re starting there’s been a big push the last couple of months, wrote up the orgonite. The cycling organisation here for does that stand for? Groceries? motifs for bicycle. Ah, okay. So very simple, very, very iconic, you know, you know exactly what you’re getting. But they’re also pushing now for active funding for the pushing for walking as well. They have protests yesterday. We’ve got foot scooters. They were brought in by the government trying to layer on anything that they can put in the system where they don’t have incentivized cars. Government policy not
Carlton Reid 8:59
not to incentivize, but then they will realise the roads which incentivize the cars
James Craig Wightman 9:04
when they bought in footswitches. Rocha was one of the groups that said you need to do these docked, not adopted it, looked around, see them scattered all over the place. And the reason doctors wouldn’t work for the government was they’d have to take away parking space from cars. So you know how that goes. And here it’s the trolley, you can try and move one parking space. It’s
Carlton Reid 9:29
such a nice, we’ve hardly because there is only a finite amount of space in the city and it’s quite a lot of tight.
James Craig Wightman 9:38
It’s actually made snacking a lot more difficult. Because as we’ve increased parking, we’ve increased the number one way street.
Carlton Reid 9:45
It’s chronic one way streets here are chronic,
James Craig Wightman 9:47
and there’s no conscious load. Or I’m going to show you one contract robots the only one I know on
Carlton Reid 9:52
the controller as anaemia where cyclists can go up the other way. Technically, that’s
James Craig Wightman 9:57
not allowed. No contract loads move by direction on sheets. So you can’t wiggle your way through towns or cities. You can’t look up on Google Maps. So you’re either going to look at a car group, which is going to take up the main road, which is illegal for scooters anyway. Or you’re going to take the pedestrian route which is going to take you up and down one way streets normally anyway. Your skirt you know, it’s really it’s a bit of a mess. Should we?
Carlton Reid 10:22
Yeah, are we going across town bumping up we’re going up to town we’re getting out of town. Because you brought me to the best straightaway come in. This is when our next habitation here so people could use this, but I’m presuming it doesn’t go very far.
James Craig Wightman 10:40
But it’s quite nice. If not unless you’re soaking trainer at the Marine Park, but not over the top. It’s probably not picking up my TV. Anything.
Carlton Reid 10:54
Right? No, don’t tell. Tell me a bit about yourself. Why are you here? How long have you been here? Two years. Wow. That’s a long time.
James Craig Wightman 11:06
It is different issues like that.
Carlton Reid 11:08
So where were you originally? Where are you from?
James Craig Wightman 11:10
Born in Scotland. Right? bonnybridge I networking for British Aerospace. Right. as well. moved around quite a bit in London. And then eventually found myself here.
Carlton Reid 11:24
Okay, you’re definitely showing me the best of the best here. Yeah. That’s nice. We’ll come straight out of the hotel there and haven’t really. I mean, there’s been a couple of motorists popping along, but nothing nothing serious. Yeah. And we’ll get to the serious bit soon, I guess. Yeah. So 30 years ago, you were still working for British Aerospace or car back now. We’re going turning right. So we’re gonna hear okay. Aviation though still? Yeah, yeah. Oh, okay. You’re still working in the aviation industry then. Okay. Yeah. luchar airport, or?
James Craig Wightman 12:06
I was starting to pick up on the other side. Uh huh. The most invading army supply in Libya? For the oil industry. Yes, yes. But we started buying for the good guys and stuff. Correct. Okay. fun places like South Sudan are ordered nicely. But we recently started my season four on transport. So we were flying in areas to the mainland in Spain, and then flying at the moment with Amelia, which is a marketing slave.
Carlton Reid 12:58
And then your colleagues think you’re a bit of a weirdo turning up on a bike because they’re going to be absolutely besotted with their cars
James Craig Wightman 13:05
probably parched. There’s two of us
Carlton Reid 13:15
but then we can hear motorbikes revving and that genuinely sounds like a genuine race track of the top there. And you call that the coast road.
James Craig Wightman 13:23
Gotcha. We’re gonna go and see.
Carlton Reid 13:25
So describe the roads policy here because because I’ve been being ferried around the bus because I’m here with the British gonna travel rides on their AGM. And we’re just, you know, five, six miles away from but that’s the way we’ve got to be a lot of the time. And so we do pass these major major highway six lane highways in the centre of town and we’re still getting stuck in traffic. That hasn’t alleviated anything, but the motorways that are not motorways, but in northern name. Oh, hey, guys. So Tarik gutting upgrading your road network infrastructure, Malta. So infrastructure Malta is the department agency that that could make your life easier. Okay, so we’re not concentrating because we are now on a pretty busy road. Not that many cars coming and stopping for us. And we’re now off again. But basically we’re we’re parallel to the coast road here on a residential road
so these motorcycles here, they look recreational to me. Yeah, they don’t know not going to work then going up and down. Round around. I mean, if you did do a round if you went the coast road the whole way. Yeah, that’s like 50 miles.
James Craig Wightman 14:53
No, no, no.
Carlton Reid 14:58
Oh, so they’re going nowhere. Yeah, they’re genuinely going nowhere. Okay?
James Craig Wightman 15:03
You’ll see as we go along, but there are photographers strategically placed, taking snapshots, people riding their bikes, I thought we
were gonna hit it too.
Carlton Reid 15:22
Are we genuinely gonna get take our lives in our hands. At least at this point, I’m going to do something quite weird. But bear with me and we’re going to cut for an ad break. We’re going to go across to my mate David in America.
David Bernstein 15:36
Hello everyone. This is David from the Fredcast and of course the spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern is to make sure that your ride is safe and worryfree. And that’s why turn works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded and perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame and the rigours of the road. For more information visit wwwternbicycles.com to learn more. And now back to the spokesmen.
Carlton Reid 16:46
Thanks David and unless straight back into into Lolita we are just on the edge of Pembroke here with James and now we’re going to take our lives into our hands James and we are going to go on the coast road but it’s a Sunday so we’re not taking the lives into our hands as much as we would on a weekday Are you really offended
James Craig Wightman 17:09
pointing in the right direction and we didn’t want knowing that we didn’t want him that he wants to do it
Carlton Reid 17:31
James I want to start not hearing you here probably
looking around here because we okay yeah
James Craig Wightman 17:50
we’re gonna go to the hole
Carlton Reid 17:52
oh that’s a Ferrari just going past using it as a racetrack
we on this is now a psychopath. Okay, so we are now on. There’s a solid white line to my right. And fatness 123456 Roadies. And they’re using the painted bike path on the other side of the road. Recreational routes are here Yeah. Hey. Nice to go that fast because there’s so many cars here. So we’ve got a solid white line on the right hand side there. And we’ve got title bikes and both of those views are nice down to the the Knights of Malta towers. In fact, I’ve got a whole bunch of more roadies here now it’s a more roadies thing though that that point 7% is we’ve met every cyclist on the island yeah
Unknown Speaker 19:07
Carlton Reid 19:11
mean that’s basically the rumble strip to tell motorists Don’t go in there painted bike lanes
I feel protected James you know that’s that’s round the roundabout at least. You know, normally that that would actually be it would stop at the roundabout that expect you to go across without paint. Ah, so at least we were protected with paint there around the roundabout. So that’s that’s tick. Right. So going downhill here the road has now gone to dead Two lanes before it was one lane and cars are going in and out of each other not overtaking sense of me going fast along the road here recreationally rather than going anywhere I don’t think using a bit of a promenade because saying the right okay oh okay that’s confusing okay but let’s do on a bike path so it’s all
it’s difficult to talk to James because it’s not nice I’m used to this it’s okay I’m not worried but it’s not pleasant let’s let’s put it that way it really isn’t that you wouldn’t put tourists on here for instance you know tourists would know like to do this but there’s almost a third lane for the for the bike path. Oh, I’m now on the rumble strip. Oh, that wasn’t nice. And you having to look to the right to see what’s coming nothing
you kind of just gone straight ahead there cyclists Yeah.
We have another group of roadies, I guess Sunday I guess.
Doctor just had a Ferrari going past and its exhaust was literally spewing flames things and this road doesn’t go and motorcyclists are just go very, very fast on it for the hell of it.
Mary’s race try. And James are telling me before that was going to be photographers. And there they are. A big corner here and another group of Roadies. 12345 1010 roadies, including somebody on a iron carbide gain. I thought times all right. Bunch of roadies, why would they be on here and why would they want to go on here and that’s where the photographers are hanging on the corner and watching and they’ve got a big lenses on taking photographs of the motorcyclists going around. Stay. There’s a whole bunch of motorcyclists that all guys mainly that’s the same roadies that were going that way. Yeah, those roads are going on this road that the motorcyclists are going on and going round around why
I, I am genuinely
each other and the cyclists are with a going round in the same row, the same racetrack. So this is going nowhere to nowhere. Yeah. Is it just going up and down? It goes up to support. But will the cyclists go up on this route and then come back? Yeah. Okay.
You’ll be getting a bit of a flavour here.
Unknown Speaker 24:16
Listening to this. And
Carlton Reid 24:17
believe me, unless you turn this up full volume and put in spatial stereo headphones. You won’t be getting what I’m getting, which is just a cacophony of noise. It’s the same Roadies. There we go. Same but
same muscle cars now coming past but let me just describe this on a normal day. So on a on a standard day, middle of the day, you wouldn’t find the motorcyclists coming around as
James Craig Wightman 24:56
well because they will probably be stuck.
Unknown Speaker 24:59
They’ll be lots of work. He places Okay, time to get stuck so it wouldn’t move as fast.
James Craig Wightman 25:04
Okay, we’ll go this way the country get away from this noise. Yeah and then we’re back on horrifying
Carlton Reid 25:14
Do you know I on Twitter you describe how murderous yeah Malta is and how awful it is. And I just think oh yeah, of course he’s just just exaggerating. And this I’ve never seen this before in my life. Yeah. I’ve never seen anything like that before. Nice. Yes, no, no, no, I now totally trust you. So we’ve lost the paint protection, and we’re now having passed by 1-234-567-8910 roadies, the same guy on the TT bike. So that is the same I mean, I recognise the bikes now. Same guys. And they’re in the middle of the road, they’re doing the doing primary position. They’re indicating where they’re going versus lying down. But again, I’m assuming they’re gonna go to this roundabout up ahead and they’re going to turn back again and do the same route which I’ve seen them on now. At least twice
so the roadie regardless Yes. Now they’re coming back on the same road doing through and off the time trial is now coming through he was the head before now he’s in the middle and they’re doing through an ops speedy speedy on the tarmac coast road beautiful surface road I’m not complaining here coming off the road James has taken us off and we’re looking where we’re going and we’re now parallel to that road ah, James so much more pleasant and we’re just metres away from that road but now I’m looking at potentially meet motorists on here but I’m breathing easier already. Yes, that’s nice. That’s nice.
James Craig Wightman 27:14
It makes it easy to drive the number of people selling a car something like something like 96%
Carlton Reid 27:30
Yeah, I’ve obviously noticed that yes, yes.
James Craig Wightman 27:35
Of course we’re not the kind of country where you’ve got space where you can have my feeling offended
Carlton Reid 27:42
me as you’re saying it makes sense to be like Sicily and to have a scooter to do those journeys it just makes no sense to have a little run around car to do those journeys so just just let’s let’s describe Malta to people who don’t know Malta so north or south, east or west. How many roads are there what how far can you go?
James Craig Wightman 28:02
This tree is apparently this 3000 kilometres
Carlton Reid 28:06
right wiggly wiggly wiggly country lanes which are metal yeah yeah.
James Craig Wightman 28:19
When we got people using Waze here it got worse they started using the back roads
Carlton Reid 28:25
Yeah, now sometimes it’s easier so north or south how what’s the distance I’m sorry
Okay, so we’re now we’re going to country lanes and we’re going quite fast so that race car culture
Unknown Speaker 28:50
it used to be a beautiful
James Craig Wightman 28:55
day was told that you come down previous tree now it’s it’s the country Yeah.
Carlton Reid 29:06
Yeah, I can hear and see them it’s not cheap. Now to put these roads in so where’s the money coming from? Yeah, I was guessing that but you know without there’s no me provisos when you when you get cash like that to say okay, we’ll give you the millions but you’ve got to put in you know, decent bike infrastructure
Well, yes, there’s there was a murdered journalist down in Valetta. knocked off the car bomb. Really where? Gosh, so glossier was was basically blown up I won’t say who won’t, but there was some semi jailed for it. won’t say
Unknown Speaker 30:03
Carlton Reid 30:08
And we’ll start up there that’s Rabatt yeah
James Craig Wightman 30:18
the big time and in fact, I’m here is
Carlton Reid 30:24
I’m gonna rebound is a beautiful mediaeval town
James there was no rhyme or reason to that a certain time that was just totally random as far as I could tell. So basically we started ahead one or two bangs nobody batted an eyelid. I was like, start what was that? And then a few seconds later, and amazing Barrows break off from the faster and more coming down to round two okay. I mean, if you’ve got PST PTSD from like, a war zone, this is gonna be pretty triggering.
James Craig Wightman 31:14
Have a hangover
Carlton Reid 31:17
so this is basically normal profess. This is just lots of noise to tell people that the fest is on Yeah. So the fester let’s put that on tape on the festival professors. It’s a religious festival. Yeah, there are 360 churches throughout Malta, each one will probably have its own patron saint. Everyone’s hoping. Yeah, those are the saints a certain day they’ll probably have a procession. And so today and Rabatt it’s its turn. And this is an annual thing. Yes. So this is the only time we’re about we’ll have this this is this is today
my ears have been bombarded today James basically, a from the the cars and the motorbikes coming pass extremely fast. And I thought, you know, we’d get some bit of a respite from that. By coming into a mediaeval town, and whatnot, we’re getting even louder. So these are loud plays Moltres whereabouts are we right now? Sorry, is behind us? Yes.
James Craig Wightman 32:27
So we’re heading we’re heading in. We’re on the outskirts of the Taj, which is part of the three villages. There’s a Tod, called San media. But we’re heading into a car.
Carlton Reid 32:40
And this room was this road built.
James Craig Wightman 32:42
This is built that last two years. Okay, and
Carlton Reid 32:45
where did the money come from?
James Craig Wightman 32:47
Okay, so it’s 85% in us, DOD. And the rest of the 15%. Government. So
Carlton Reid 32:55
European Regional Development. And let’s describe what this is. So we’ve got two and a half metre direction or bike path parallel to the road with green and green green tarmac, so in many, many respects, it’s it’s up to EU standards. Yeah, this is good. And you’re complaining about this at
James Craig Wightman 33:19
all? No, no, no, that’s fine. Although there are the bits of it, which need tweaking?
Carlton Reid 33:24
So basically, they put some good stuff in. Yes. But they need to complete it.
James Craig Wightman 33:30
Yeah, they didn’t connect it up. And they haven’t really signed it. So you’re very lucky to find your way around it. If you can find it.
Carlton Reid 33:39
Do tweak it. Yeah. Initially will be to assign it to people. We’re not telling you where to go. Like you wouldn’t do that. But road.
Unknown Speaker 33:48
Yeah. Yes. Yeah.
Carlton Reid 33:52
Because this is this is much wider than what we’ve heard before. Yes, yes,
James Craig Wightman 33:55
yes. Although what we had before was a two lane road with a pretty wide carriageway. And you could, you could freeway it all the way from Indiana virtually all the way down to here. And this will actually take you almost really almost up to Moscow. On the back end, Alia as well, if there have been kerastraight is a major place you’d want to get to
Carlton Reid 34:19
as a family as a tourist or whatever. Yeah. And then the central road.
James Craig Wightman 34:26
It also links up to places like Dingli. So you’ve got an alternative route to the back of theory as well. So it’s quite an important route. Really. But then you get to the end of this bridge across
Carlton Reid 34:43
your carriageway Park. That route has taken us away. And then we’re done. We’re done with
Unknown Speaker 34:48
what we’ve just done. Yeah. Yeah, you know what to
Carlton Reid 34:51
do. That’s it, your local unit materials and I haven’t got Google Maps because they don’t work. And I’m like, Where do I go?
James Craig Wightman 35:01
I think it’s a good place for me to start selling maps in my retirement.
Carlton Reid 35:06
I’m going to be staying with you because Yeah.
James Craig Wightman 35:10
Okay, so avoiding all the cars. We’re going to take a short ride down here in a right turn. do minor potholes. So little double double turn back there on initial residential road which I’m sure you would never know is here. Hiding behind the heck we have. We have a footbridge. You It’s a lovely 90, a lovely 1970s footbridge. But you’d never get a cargo bike around. There’s probably a limited use.
Carlton Reid 35:48
So on the plans for this that just was on the plan. Nowhere and presumably people said Where would people go? Yeah, why don’t you do
James Craig Wightman 35:59
apparently apparently there’s going to be a crossing that or there was going to be a crossing there but it’s never materialised. And we had rather than rotor who’ve done some really sterling work in trying to raise awareness of things like this, have had regular meetings with with, you know, the authorities, particularly infrastructure in Malta, and pointed out these failings and nothing got done.
Carlton Reid 36:25
That’s money from the EU. Does the EU not come along and say I’m doing this way? Why aren’t you going to do this bit?
James Craig Wightman 36:33
Nope. We’ve tried that. But it didn’t seem to wake anybody up. Wiggling through we’re gonna wiggle through this quaint little footbridge. Big missing? Yes. Yeah. Good. Good. Well, honey, really, it’s such a small investment to begin with a couple of signs. Oh, yes, yes.
Yes. Yes, yes, it’s this bit here. We’re gonna go to the end of it, it goes through through the end of the talk. And, in theory, it’s supposed to carry on to the next bit of Roku and I’ve done but we’ve not seen any an indication of that happening.
Carlton Reid 37:41
That night again, my mouth is open here in in Malta, so I’m sure people can hear the thundering traffic. We are at masa junction and it’s like a very modern version of Spaghetti Junction. We have got roads going over roads going over roads, flyover overfly, but we’re actually on a bike path underneath which incredibly wide so so credit there to infrastructure, Malta, underneath the flyovers we’ve had some nice planting. But then just why on earth? Have we got roads like this? And what might the problem be? With roads like this?
James Craig Wightman 38:22
We’ve actually got seven flyovers here. Master junction was always a problem, because there was a lot of traffic getting stuck here by one set of traffic lights. So which allow traffic to dissipate downstream by the way. But it was basically a vote winning ploy to free up traffic to Moscow. And yes, now you can drive much, much faster to Moscow, but it means you get to where you’re going much quicker at the same time as everybody else. And the problem with that is that little villages who want one way streets and tiny, so no restriction can’t cope with all the traffic now arriving at them. So while people say their trip is quicker on master junction, it then takes them more time when they get stuck at the villages.
Carlton Reid 39:08
So you said vote winning there. So just explain the kind of political system you have here that Matt makes the position of the 2021 junction when it was when it was open. So what what is the political system here that is allowing and I’m going to call this lunacy.
James Craig Wightman 39:25
Okay? It’s a partisan system. There’s two main parties, and thereafter every vote that they can get. So elections tend to be a giving election rather than a strict austerity one. And basically, everybody is scared to touch cars. The government has stated publicly that he’s not going to descend devise or do anything to hurt cars, or to stop people buying or owning
Carlton Reid 39:54
one second because just the city site, seeing bus that you would see everywhere else we go someone scenic, and they’re going around the city on the mass. I wonder if the guides are saying, you know, this is our wonderful miles or junction here cost this much. Isn’t it wonderful? And people on the blog, we want to fly it. I mean, why are you telling me this? Anyway? Sorry, Sorry, I interrupted that just are seeing that coming across same tourist saying there’s normally you would take tourists away from this kind of stuff. Yeah, you wouldn’t show them this stuff. Sorry, sorry,
James Craig Wightman 40:25
national pride, in fact that the end of this cycling is transmitted for offices. And there are no actual signs telling people how to get on to the cycling. So quite often, you find some poor lost cyclists on what is eventually the dual carriageway, which everybody hates, obviously, but you know, you can’t really blame them, because there’s nothing telling them how to get here. So it’s really just finishing off. I mean, there’s, there’s a lot of things that could be done. There. Little tiny things, little tweaks, that could make it really good. But then again, as you say, he’s skiing against the backdrop of seven flowers, you know, perhaps we really need, which is actually encouraged more and more people to drive drive,
Carlton Reid 41:08
because even if you put the best bike infrastructure in the world here, and this right now is phenomenal bike infrastructure, the signage, okay, I’ll grant you that. But from the width we have, well, let me talking how far away we are going, I’m going to count this out, that’s about a metre to three, that’s five metres. So we have a five metre by directional bypass green, fantastic world class brilliant, but you have seven flyovers, you have seven roads crossing over it. So you’re gonna get a you know,
James Craig Wightman 41:41
you know, where the the emphasis was on building this junction where they’re emphasising car use. But at the moment, in Malta, we’ve got something like 96% of all car trips, a single person, one person on their own, just driving. So it’s a huge, huge number of cars, particularly during the week when people are going to and from work, just monetizing the car.
Carlton Reid 42:05
So again, is this EU money? This was this is majority funded by the EU. Yeah. And they’ve taken that 85% out of their 15% and created this. And I said before, when we’ll get when we’re cycling through it, it’s like, it’s quite dystopian, yeah, this is this is Taiwan, on steroids. You know, this is this is this is it. We’re a small country here, Malta is tiny. And we’ve got infrastructure that you’d expect in Los Angeles, that is, lunacy. But nobody sees that as lunacy here.
James Craig Wightman 42:41
There are a few people but few and far between unfortunately, and they’re not listening to this. There’s some really good experts on on sustainability like Dr. Murray retired from the University of Malta, Geography Department of Sustainability. So I’m really trying for years to try and get people to understand that we need to cut down on cars, we need to free up space in our towns and cities. There isn’t one parking metre on the island. You can park anywhere or you can park anywhere. So you know, there’s nothing there at all does this identifies people from driving? So obviously they do.
Carlton Reid 43:20
Yes, yes. Well, well, welcome to Malta if you’re an absolute moto freak, because you’ve got everything you could wish for. You’ve got every flyover that will speed you to the next traffic jam. Thanks to James Craig Whiteman. There and thanks to you for listening to Episode 323 of their spokesman podcast, show notes, and more can be found at the Piper spokesman.com And also like to thank visit Malta for hosting the AGM of the British guild of travel writers. Away from its dystopian road system. Malta has some real treasures. Most people fly to the island, but I got to Malta by train and ferry using the Omio travel booking app, hopping between stations and riding up Mount Edma. Even on a folding bike, of course, the next episode of The spokesman podcast brought to you in association with 10 bicycles should be a chat with BBC journalists, Anna Harlequin and Kate Vandy. I say should because they’re still awaiting delivery of a rather special outside broadcast unit. A tricked out cargo bike. This will be the bike Bureau, a mobile news gathering studio like no other. I’m hoping that chat can happen later this month.
In the show you’ve just listened to I shortened the audio I captured of the Daytime fireworks at Rabat’s festa and if you’re up for some bonus bangs listen on?
Unknown Speaker 47:10
Carlton Reid 47:25
so NFM normal for Malta
Unknown Speaker 47:27
that was just
Carlton Reid 47:35
with the like the bangs are you don’t like