From a personal choice to a campaign for more people to use a bicycle

When the roads were empty during the pandemic, it appears that the use of bicycles increased, both as a means of physical activity as well as an alternative means of transport. A group of people in collaboration with the organisation MOVE have come together to form ROTA, to promote the use of bicycles. On World Bicycle Day we met with a nurse who starting cycling to work eight months ago.

Last October,  Janice Caruana made the choice to start cycling to work. As a paramedic, she explained that the traffic and limited parking space were not the only reasons for her decision.

“It is a well known fact that if you do exercise you release endorphins which allow you to relax and make you feel calmer at work. Our work in itself is very stressful but since I have been using a bike I have become calmer,” she says.

Janice said that the greatest challenge has been the lack of bike infrastructure and sometimes the lack of. respect by drivers. However, she began encouraging her friends to do the same.

“My friend Cynthia has joined me – I stop off at my workplace in Paola and she keeps going to her work at MCAST,” said Janice.

Eventually, other people starting joining them. On World Bicycle Day, Cynthia Debono explained that now they will not give up their bikes.

“We have not only ended up going around with our bikes but we have moved an entire community because other people started approaching us, our friends and even those we don’t know. We have taught children, women and men how to ride a bike during the pandemic,” said Cynthia.

For them, the bicycle has become a means of transport and physical exercise.

“My husband and daughter and I  find time to ride together, and sometimes even my son joins us. We sometimes cycle for an hour, and even two or three hours,” said Nadine Camilleri.

Cynthia said that they are hardly using their car and in collaboration. with MOVE they have joined the ROTA campaign to increase the use of bicycles in the community.

“I believe that if more people start riding a bike we will eventually see less cars on the road and more bikes, so let us be the first to start this change,” added Cynthia Debono.