surinenglish

THE BOTTOM LINE

Three-way confession

Malaga and anyone who moves around in it are currently caught up in the controversy over the new bylaw that bans bikes and electric scooters from pavements and pedestrianised streets, forcing them out into dangerous traffic.

I caught up with a cyclist, a driver and a pedestrian to see how they feel.

The Cyclist: I never liked riding on the pavement, weaving my way among the pedestrians who have a habit of changing direction suddenly and getting in the way, but I confess I did it. I can see how that's a problem, but what do you do when the cycle track just stops and turns into a pavement? Now, on my regular journey across the city, to do things properly, I have to ride a bit on a cycle track, join the traffic on the road when the track ends, dismount to walk across a pedestrian crossing to reach the start of a new cycle track that ought to be connected with the first but isn't. And the cycle tracks are great until you come across one of the many vans that use them as loading bays, or the pedestrians with their heavy shopping trolleys who've realised that the tracks are smoother than the pavements, or the runners. As for the new 30km/h lanes where traffic must give priority to bikes and scooters, on one hand it gives me a feeling of being given the freedom the city - we cyclists can claim our place on the city's roads. But so far I've preferred to get off and walk.

The Driver: I must confess I don't like bikes on the road. It's annoying when you get behind one and have to chug along in first or when the rider wobbles and swerves in front of you. I admit I find it hard to stick to 30km/h on the new lanes and often go faster, but hardly any bikes use them anyway. And I also admit that I'm not used to looking out for a cyclist on a cycle path at a crossing; I only check for movement at pedestrian speeds before pulling out, despite knowing they're there.

The Pedestrian: Thank goodness they've taken cyclists and scooters off the pavements. They might claim they're in control when they swerve round me, but I don't know that. I confess, though, that I've sometimes stopped suddenly to chat, blocking a cycle track without realising, or crossed without looking.

So, the answer lies in 'convivencia' as the Spanish beautifully say: everyone existing happily together, being respectful of each other, understanding the others' positions.

But in this case, all three ought to understand one another, because they are all the same person; they are all me.

I am a cyclist, a driver and a pedestrian (no electric scooter yet). Many cyclists also drive cars, many drivers ride bikes and everyone walks to a certain extent.

But we all take our roles very seriously, depending on which hat - or helmet - we're wearing at the time.

So city hall, let's have those cycle tracks joined up, with separations that make it difficult for pedestrians to 'invade' them; and let's have the 30km/h lanes cordoned off just for bikes and scooters... it's for our own good, to save us from ourselves.