Transport policy announcements are poorly planned and poorly executed
The GSD notes the recent introduction of the 1.5 metre rule and the revised Highway Code.
Whilst no one doubts the determination and ambition of the Minister for Transport in his support for cycling, that ambition is not matched by support in his own Government. The effect of this lack of support is that the measures announced recently are not joined up, lack depth and ultimately cannot effectively be introduced and enforced.
Shadow Transport and Environment Minister Elliott Phillips MP said:
“Tinkering at the edges of transport policy without wide consultation, detailed planning, stress testing and the provision of improved infrastructure such as roads, cycle lanes, and better public transport is simply not good enough.
Gibraltar has a unique, challenging and limited geography and therefore much more radical thinking must go into ensuring that all road users can be accommodated. We must ensure that our number one priority is the safety of our citizens in moving about our streets and roads. We must also ensure that our infrastructure is agile and can accommodate pedestrians, cyclist and E-scooter lanes safely alongside motorists.”
The 1.5 metre rule announcement in relation to cyclists has resulted in much public debate about how practical the rule is and why the financial penalty for non-compliance appears to be three times more than the UK and European countries such as Ireland. Everyone agrees that motorists and cyclists must have mutual respect for one another’s space but many of our roads, as currently designed, are poorly equipped for this rule to be properly managed, respected and enforced. The answer to this problem is a well thought out infrastructure and better roads to accommodate all types of roads users which would make the new rule easier to respect and enforced.
In relation to the Highway Code and whilst the Government appears to have applied the UK code to Gibraltar given our similar legal systems, our infrastructure and roads have suffered years of neglect with no or very little modernisation or improvements. The GSD believe that given our unique and challenging geography, much more should have gone into preparing a Highway Code. Whilst much of the UK Highway Code is relevant it should be properly tailored for Gibraltar needs.
Mr Phillips went on to say:
“We need to be bold and radical, but we also need proper planning. The Government has failed to learn the lessons from the public outcry over the Line Wall Road disaster which showed a complete lack of planning and poor execution. It will be recalled that the Chief Minister had to publicly apologise for the former transport minister’s appalling handling of that project. Changes in transport laws and regulations must be underpinned and matched by well-designed, well planned and modern transport infrastructure which will provide the public with confidence in the safety and availability of the alternatives to car use.”