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Updated: Car free day appeals ignored - Ministers set example

As people the world over mark car free day today – cycling, walking or using public transport to go to work, most Maltese got into their car as usual, many without taking on any passengers.

However some members of the Cabinet did try to set an example. Justice Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici and Finance Minister Tonio Fenech used the buses, the Prime Minister, Education Minister Dolores Cristina and Parliamentary Secretary Mario Galea used an electric car, Resources Minister George Pullicino used a hybrid car and Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco walked to Valletta from his home in Blata l-Bajda.

"No minister came to the Cabinet in his usual car," a government spokesman said.

European Mobility Week, organised by the EU between September 16 and today, urged European cities and towns to participate in a widespread event on sustainable mobility.

The aim was to encourage public awareness of the need to act against pollution caused by the increase in motorised traffic in the urban environment, improving the quality of urban life.

But in Malta, the Park and Ride and the Floriana car park filled up early as usual, bus and park and ride van drivers reported normal patronage and although a special mini-van service was provided from near the Marsamxett ferries in Valletta to the centre of the city to encourage people to use the service, the vans remained empty and very few locals, if any, used the ferry to cross from Sliema.

Although this is not the first time that Malta took part in the car free day initiative, no restrictions were made on the use of private cars although an appeal was made to motorists to avoid using private cars. Motorists were urged to use the buses or share their cars.

Inspire foundation, which works among disabled children, urged employees to cycle to work and make a donation. It will also hold a national mass cycle event on Sunday to raise funds.

Participation in both activities is against a donation of €5 for children and €10 for adults.

There are 301,605 vehicles in Malta, one of the biggest concentrations of vehicles in the world in relation to the population. A third of vehicles are over 10 years old and 41 per cent are between six and 10 years old.

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