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Watch: Forget the car, globetrotting biker advises

'We fell in love with the island, but there are way too many cars'

An expat who has just settled on the island had some sound advice for Maltese people: ditch your car as soon as possible and ride a bike.

“It is crazy for me that those living in a small island are shocked when I tell them that I cycle everywhere,” Theo Koning, 63, said.

Theo Koning, who has just moved to Malta, was shocked by the number of cars here. Photo: Jonathan BorgTheo Koning, who has just moved to Malta, was shocked by the number of cars here. Photo: Jonathan Borg

The Dutch globetrotter has used his bicycle all over the world. He cycled his way from Rome to Malta, an undertaking that took three weeks and left him with €170 in savings.

His family is used to cycling all over the world, in fact, it was his son who first came up with the idea a few years ago.

“We had always gone to Italy for the summer and my son suggested we see Italy in a different way,” Mr Koning said.

“It really gave a new dimension to our travels.”

Mr Koning then decided to cycle his way from the Netherlands to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, a route of about 2,248 kilometres, or roughly 80 times the size of Malta. The idea at first seemed daunting but Mr Koning and his family managed to complete the challenge in 49 days.

He first made his way to Malta four years ago and admitted he was initially shocked to find it was so difficult to move from one place to the other.

“My family and I fell in love with the island but there are way too many cars. When you are driving, it always feels like you’re stuck in a square in traffic,” he said.

It always feels like you’re stuck in a square in traffic

Maltese people also appeared to be reluctant to give up their car, he noted, adding there seemed to be a mentality that people simply refused to cycle.

“When I told people I would be cycling from Marsascala to Msida and back every day for work they were shocked but I could not understand why because the island is so small,” he said.

READ: Cycling lane in Żebbuġ replaced with shared option

“Buying a car seems to be a sort of tradition here.”

He conceded, however, that cycling had its challenges in a country where cars were the ruling mode of transportation.

“I hesitate to cycle in the evening because it seems to be too dangerous and I always feel as though I have to avoid certain paths because of how unsafe they are,” he said.

“Indeed, the efforts by the authorities needed to accompany a mentality change.”

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