Traffic - Pexels

Joseph Vassallo, Head of Marketing at Welbee’s, on Monday put forward the idea of introducing an underground pathway for cyclists and pedestrians as a possible solution to Malta’s traffic problems.

Traffic congestion has been a pressing issue in Malta in recent years, with motorists being locked in slow-moving, or in other instances standstill traffic on numerous occasions across some of Malta’s most frequented roads and densely populated areas. The sheer number of drivers on Malta’s roads has not only prompted extensive delays in arriving from one place to another, but it has also resulted in increased accidents, of which, too many have been fatal.

Joseph Vassallo - LinkedIn
Welbee’s Head of Marketing Joseph Vassallo / LinkedIn

While many have called for increased incentives for public transport and a better road network, Mr Vassallo remarked that “it’s time to think beyond conventional solutions and explore innovative approaches that disregard the limitations we have been accustomed to”.

Taking inspiration from Bergen, a city in Norway that recently opened a 2.9-kilometre tunnel fully dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians, he noted that Malta’s authorities could consider the construction of a similar underground pathway.

“This could greatly improve short-distance travel and encourage the use of electric scooters, bikes and walking instead of the use of a car,” he explained.

Bergen Tunnel / Joseph Vassallo / LinkedIn
Bergen’s pedestrian tunnel / Joseph Vassallo / LinkedIn

Mr Vassallo proceeded to note down some key advantages that such a pathway presents, including encourage more people to walk during summer and winter as it provides protection from sun and rain.

Such pathways are also “easier and more cost-effective to build” than normal roads, given their smaller dimensions.

The reduction in the use of cars for short-distance travel will also lead to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions and a drop in traffic “especially in central areas like town squares, as these would have exits to central locations”. These tunnels will also “reduce the need for parking areas in central locations” and boost the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

Bergen Tunnel / Joseph Vassallo / LinkedIn
Bergen’s pedestrian tunnel / Joseph Vassallo / LinkedIn

“The traffic situation in Malta has been steadily worsening due to various factors such as the influx of nationals from developing countries, overpopulation and limited road and land availability,” Mr Vassallo added.

He explained that despite the implementation of free public transportation, widening roads and constructing flyovers, “none of these measures have proven effective”.

“Some political parties have flirted with the idea of underground tunnels for trains or trams as a solution, but these proposals were mostly promises made during election campaigns, and we all know that these are way too expensive and will take decades to construct, and are probably not feasible,” he continued.

“Let’s start thinking outside the box and at least consider such proposals,” Mr Vassallo concluded.

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