Gill Temple
Moaning about the Main Street cycle path


I am the first one to moan about the cycle path in Main Street. Not because I’m anti cyclist nor do I have a problem with bikes, its pedestrians and cyclists together that I squirm at, predicting a serious accident. 

When the cycle path was first put in place, and the beautiful cobbles were painted over, it became a free ticket for cyclists to abuse the gift that they had been given. Instead of using it within the time allotted to them (night time, in the dark) they came out on their bikes with no thought to other users of Main Street and cycled dangerous through the crowds of shoppers, usually the wrong way. To the shoppers that were inconvenienced, or injured they were met with verbal abuse. What a great memory for the tourist to remember their stay in Gibraltar by!

Worse still, not one of the cyclists that abused the rules, were children. It was the adults that should have known better that took advantage of the system and ruined it for others, whilst their children were in school.

Alive with activity

At the weekend I went to the cinema one evening. As I walked through Casemates it was dark, but there was still plenty of activity in the restaurants, and the Christmas decorations were beautifully illuminating Gibraltar. Whilst the adults were enjoying their evening in Casemates, I turned the corner by the ICC into Main Street and found that Main Street was alive with activity. There were children with their new Christmas bicycles with stabilisers, and boys racing, girls gathered and cycling in pairs. Dog walkers and their toddlers on tricycles were further up the road. All Going in different directions, but with zero pedestrians apart from me, it didn’t matter.

One thing that stood out the most to me, was a child on a “grown up” bike with stabilisers, which was something I hadn’t ever seen before. I grew up with children under the age of five needing these cycling training supports fixed to their back wheels, so that the child could learn to balance in safety. I had never seen it on a full size bike. It dawned on me that up until the cycle path was put in Main Street Gibraltar children had absolutely no where to ride a bike safely or in fact learn to ride a bicycle. In my ignorance I imagined that learning to bike riding was a fundament right of any child in the western world. But of course Children in Gibraltar didn’t have that safe facility available to them, until now.

Cycling for children is so important. It is a skill, which like any skill learnt, breeds confidence and independence. It only takes two to four hours a week to achieve a general improvement to anyone’s health and therefore a great habit and skillset for any child to obtain. Unlike other sports or activities cycling has low impact on muscles and joints– it therefore causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise. Cycling is a good muscle workout – cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.

Cycling positives

Also unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill. Another positive to cycling is that once you learn, you never forget how to ride a bike. Cycling is said to increase stamina, strength and aerobic fitness. Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. Cycling makes us breathe deeper, perspire and experience increased body temperature, which will improve overall fitness level. Furthermore it can be done at very low intensity to begin with for toddlers or young children or if recovering from injury or illness, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout, if you so wish.

A further advantage of cycling especially for children is that it is a fun way to get fit – the adventure and buzz you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors means you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places.

Of course cycling is not only an activity for getting fit or remaining fit, it is a mode of transport too, with less hassle when it comes to parking in Gibraltar, it is no wonder that pavements are now being blocked by inconsiderate bike owners, looking for the nearest tree to attach their bikes to.

In a community that suffers from a high level of depression and stress, and is looking to improve mental health within, cycling boasts that it can decrease stress levels, reduce anxiety and depression, boast confidence and help with mood swings as well as help with the physical aspects, like posture and coordination.

UK studies and surveys from teachers claim to have reported that kids who cycle to school are more alert and ready to learn than those kids who travel by car.


Whilst computer gaming is pretty cheap entertainment for children, cycling is essentially free and is a more sociable activity. For smaller children, taking your child outside for a bike ride will strengthen your bond and improve your parent/child relationship. Your child will get the chance to experience things with you, and if your child is small enough for a front mounted child bike seat, you can see through their eyes too! Your baby can point and babble, whilst you can have an eye on them the whole time.

Older children can enjoy seeing their city from a different perspective and can start to build a real sense of community, hopefully, by understanding the rules of cycling they will become better citizens than their parents, that still feel they are entitled to break the rules made to protect their neighbours.

Those children out on the streets playing and cycling made me realise that I was wrong in targeting the cycle path as a rubbish idea. Within the time constraints already imposed, the cycle path can and is a benefit and asset to Gibraltar and its children. In future I will reserve my negative comments to the people that insist on abusing the system and endangering others. Oh and maybe with a peppering of comments about making electric bikes the same status as pedal power, yet banning electric scooters on the pavements that the electric bikes can now use. Something to laugh about, that is until someone gets hurt or seriously injured.