The 2014 Car Free day in Malta is a fail

By | September 22, 2014

The Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Leo Brincat, on car free day, opted to rent a coach for himself and his secretariat. Whilst carpooling is a good solution to the reduction of cars on our streets it also shows the lack of faith in Malta’s public transport system. If the Minister can’t use public transport on the day he’s supposed to lead by example and as a token gesture use Malta’s public transport then how does he expect the rest of us to do so in our every day life?

source - timesofmalta.com

source – timesofmalta.com

Unfortunately rarely does car free day have much of an impact in Malta. This year it was made even worse since it coincides on the day many students go back to school. Malta woke up to congested roads, slow moving traffic and overall frustration.

I don’t know whose idea it was to hold car free day on this day but unfortunately it shows the shortsightedness of the organisers. The idea of car free day is to promote the use of alternative methods of transport. Going to work with your bike, carpooling and public transport are all ways this can be done and it could work if it is taken seriously. If awareness is the focal point of car free day then it should have been held on a Saturday or Sunday when people are more inclined to try out new things. So what if it’s not on the proper date, after all the car free day website is pretty clear:

Every year on or around 22 September, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society.

Speaking to MaltaToday Minister Leo Brincat said that the government was chastised by the EU for shifting the car free date days arbitrarily adding “All other member states have chosen today to hold Car Free Day together with many other countries worldwide to mark the International Car Free Day.” But my reply to that statement is, so what? Malta is unfortunately way beyond being a car-dominated society. We need to learn how to walk before we can run and that is why whoever is in charge of organising this day needs to think of the realities which affect us, mainly;

  • In September it’s still pretty hot meaning many won’t see walking/biking as an option,
  • The first day of school is always sheer madness especially since this is when there is an increase of cars on our roads – AVOID,
  • We need to have a public transport system which works and is able to sustain an increase in users,
  • Weekends would probably be more accessible to most people.

Instead of going with the flow and give an excuse quoting what the EU have demanded (this is after all not a law), the Minister should have put forward sensible statements as to why the 22nd of September would not have worked for Malta. After all, what’s the use of having a car free day if no one is remotely interested in taking part?