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Commuter tries 5 modes of transport, cycling wins

Day 1: the bus is late…

Day 1: the bus is late…

Frustrated by ever-growing traffic, an intrepid commuter has tried five different means of transport to get to work in the morning – and cycling has claimed the victory.

After the second day was spent travelling by car stuck in traffic, Day 3 was the ferry’s turn.After the second day was spent travelling by car stuck in traffic, Day 3 was the ferry’s turn.

It took Suzanne Maas 35 minutes to get from Senglea to Gżira by bike, burning 327 calories on the way.

This is one-third of the time it took her to reach her workplace by bus and just under half of the time she spent driving to the office.

Ms Maas, who has a background in environmental science, starts work at 8.30am. Like fellow islanders, she was growing increasingly dissatisfied with the traffic situation.

Every morning she would question whether it was more feasible to travel by car, considering her list of errands, or by bus, to save time looking for a place to park.

Cycling all the way was fastest at just 35 minutes

However, the bus could get stuck in traffic, so cutting across by ferry could be a better idea. But that meant cycling the rest of the journey, which is dangerous if it rains because the running water makes the potholes invisible.

Day 4: biking it (the winner), though Day 5 – on foot –was faster than bus or car. Photos: Suzanne MaasDay 4: biking it (the winner), though Day 5 – on foot –was faster than bus or car. Photos: Suzanne Maas

So Ms Maas decided to embark on her ‘Grand Transport Experiment’ and use a different mode of transport every day of the week to find the easiest and most convenient one.

On the first day she caught the bus, which arrived 15 minutes late, got stuck in traffic and saw Ms Maas arrive at work one-and-half hours after leaving home.

The following day she commuted by car, sparing her 15 minutes. It took her 75 minutes to get to Gżira, despite taking the Dock 7 shortcut. Taking into consideration fuel and the licence fee, but not the insurance or maintenance bills, she estimated it cost 82c and approximately 1.54kg of CO2 emissions, excluding the manufacture or disposal of the vehicle.

On the third day, she cycled to the ferry terminal in Cospicua, took the boat to the capital, used the lift to get up to Valletta, and cycled from there to work. This journey took her 40 minutes and cost €1.50, but helped her burn 187 calories.

The fourth option – cycling all the way – was the fastest at just 35 minutes. It was also the best calorie burner and did not cost a cent. Neither did going on foot on the fifth day. But this took her one hour and 10 minutes, which is still faster than commuting by bus or car.

Her verdict? Cycling, whether or not combined with a ferry trip, was the fastest way to get to work and could be a solution for many other commuters.

Unfortunately, apart from the angry looks and antagonism she often gets from other road users, cycling also has its physical obstacles.

She believes that the creation of dedicated bicycle lanes and routes could be of “tremendous support” for those who want to try out cycling but are too afraid of diving into the traffic with the current road set-up.

Meanwhile, Ms Maas’s experiment is not over… She is still on the lookout for other modes of transport that she could try out, including kayaking, a scooter or an electric bike.

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