The cycle lanes on the Coast Road
The cycle lanes at Salina constitute the longest uninterrupted cycle route in Malta and in total is approximately 12.9 km taking a total of approximately 21,800 square metres.
Upon consultation with a number of cyclists groups back in 2013 a discussion was underway on whether the cycle lanes at Salina should be implemented at the same level of the road or elevated. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with both arrangements and these were discussed at the Transport Malta offices in Sa Maison. The cyclists groups wished that the cycle lane would be completely segregated from the road lane with a solid verge in between. The site limitations however did not permit to carry out further widening in the areas in question. Mostly because of the various environmentally sensitive areas along the Coast Road.
In general, there was consensus that the cycle lanes will be better placed at the same level of the road. TM took on this recommendation and the challenge was to plan a cycle lane at the same level of the road within the site limitations imposed at the Coast Road. In general, the factors that were considered were to provide a form of light segregation between the lanes possibly with a buffer zone in between and keep the cycle lane width as close as possible to 1.5 metres. A balance had to be reached between the provision of a lane for cyclists with adequate room to ride without decreasing the recovery area available to errant motor vehicles. AASHTO guide for the development of bicycle facilities recommend a distance of 0.3 metres between the road edge line and the rumble strip. A 38 cm centre to centre distance was implemented at the Salina Coast Road between edge line and rumble strip whilst as stated above maintaining as much as possible adequate widths for the cycle lanes. The widths on site indeed vary according to the alignment at localised areas and the average width is of approximately 1.6 metres. The measured widths throughout the cycle lane in general fall within the recommended widths in Table 7 of the “Transport Malta Technical Guidelines for the Preparation of Road Safety Audits, Road Safety Impact Assessments and Road Safety Inspections”.
The light segregation as implemented on the Coast Road is described in various international publications as an effective way to segregate cycle lanes from road lanes and one of these examples is a recent publication – “International Cycle Infrastructure Best Practice study” commissioned by Transport for London. The configuration of the intermittent thermoplastic paint also referred to as a raised rumble strip was chosen to have a reduced disturbance to cyclists whilst maintaining their function to deter vehicles to go off lane. Hence a 10mm protrusion was chosen as opposed to higher protrusions. This was mentioned in a Conference of European Directors of Roads publication “Forgiving roadside design guide” which refers to NCHRP report 641 in which the configuration of the rumble strip used at the Coast Road is deemed to be less aggressive on cyclists.
The guidelines and reviews available on this subject do not always provide rigid standards but rather suggestions and recommendations that need to be adapted to the site and case in question.