Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos on Saturday visited the Daytona karting track in Nicosia, where he participated in motorcycle training seminars organised by the Nicosia Motorcycle Club, under the auspices of the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation.
“I also came today from Ayia Napa on my motorcycle, carrying full protective equipment, including my personal body airbag, and as a motorcyclist, I too have to train and participate in seminars like today’s,” Karousos said.
Karousos stressed the importance of such initiatives, saying that they strengthen road safety, culture and awareness.
The seminar, called City’s A.R.T (City’s Advance Rider Technics), is a specialised motorcycle and scooter rider training programme, which, among other things, offers defensive driving training aimed at communicating risks and ways to prevent road collisions.
The minister also referred to the results of road collision statistics, where the percentage of fatal collisions involving motorcyclists is much higher than users of other vehicles.
Motorcycle drivers are statistically 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic collision than a driver of another type of vehicle.
“It is particularly important that motorcycle drivers use the necessary protective equipment as it has been observed that this year seven out of nine motorcycle fatalities did not wear the necessary protective equipment,” Karousos said.
“During the past two years, a very large coordinated effort has been made by the ministry of transport to improve road safety, with a number of priority actions and bills, such as the mandatory use of body airbags in professional motorcycle drivers, which could save the life of the deceased food delivery driver, who was involved in a traffic accident in Pallouriotissa, Nicosia, yesterday morning,” he added.
At the same time, the minister said, the necessary legislative regulations and amendments are being promoted, such as changes to driver’s licences, MOT control for motorcycles, as well as incentive plans for the purchase of protective equipment.
Additional measures include the implementation of the traffic camera system, the further increase of the road safety budget, the modernisation of the department of road transport, as well as the boosting of driver training programmes, among others.
The majority of cars in Cyprus are between 10 and 20 years old, according to Eurostat data released on Friday.
Interestingly, from December 31, 2020, a mere 4 per cent of passenger vehicles in Cyprus were less than two years old (22,812 vehicles), and 10 per cent were between two and five years old (58,211 vehicles),
Meanwhile, the numbers grew as the age of the vehicles increased, with 20 per cent of cars between five and 10 years old (117,506 vehicles), 49 per cent were between 10 and 20 years old (283,537 vehicles) and 17 per cent were older than 20 years (96,092 vehicles). In total, some 66 per cent of passenger vehicles in Cyprus were older than 10 years old.
In a matter of only 13 years from now, the EU will prohibit the sale of vehicles with combustion engines, it announced in June this year as part of its green deal and the UN’s Agenda 2030 plan. It signals a complete changeover to electric vehicles from 2035 and on.
Eurostat noted that in recent years several EU member states have launched programmes to subsidise new cars with lower emissions, putting more polluting cars out of circulation.
However, the renewal effort has been affected by the effects of Covid-19 and disruptions in supply chains.
In Cyprus, incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles, including taxis and buses, and transportation means with lower emissions in combination with a car scrappage scheme were announced back in November 2021.
The first scheme, with a €4m budget, concerns the scrappage of cars older than 12 years and their replacement with new ones with lower emissions, or with electric bicycles or in exchange for bus tickets.
For the scrappage of an old car and its replacement with a new one that emits less than 50 grammes per kilometre of carbon dioxide, the subsidy is at €7,500. In total 360 subsidies were on offer.
Those wishing to scrap an old car and purchase a taxi that emits less than 50g/km CO2 the subsidy was €12,000 (33 subsidies).
For the scrappage of an old car and purchase of a new one for disabled people emitting less than 50g/km CO2 the subsidy was €10,000 (20). The same applies for purchasing a car for large families (20).
Applications for this scheme were being accepted between December 6 and 20. Priority was given based on the age of the car slated for scrappage, with older ones being given priority.
Europe-wide, the largest proportion of new passenger cars at the end of 2020 was recorded in Luxembourg (22 per cent of all passenger vehicles in the country).
They were followed by France, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Sweden, where the percentages ranged between 16 per cent and 17 per cent.
Most passenger vehicles aged two to five were recorded in Luxembourg and Ireland (28 per cent in both countries) and Belgium (24 per cent).
Meanwhile, the largest proportion of older vehicles (more than 20 years old) was recorded in Poland (40 per cent), followed by Estonia (33 per cent) and Finland (28 per cent).
As authorities prepare to move from the pilot to the first phase of the traffic camera system, attention is turning to their location.
Another 20 stationary cameras are to be installed in the next six months – in Nicosia and Limassol — while 16 mobile traffic cameras will also come into operation.
The biggest ramp up of the system authorities hope will prove instrumental in improving road safety will come with phase two when a further 66 stationary cameras will be up and running – as the programme expands to Paphos and Larnaca.
This will bring the total number of fixed cameras to 90 of which 19 in Nicosia, 31 in Limassol, 14 each in Larnaca and Paphos and 12 on intercity roads.
There will be no fixed cameras in the Famagusta district where checks will be carried out using mobile cameras.
Cyprus so far been in the pilot phase with just four stationary and four mobile cameras that were introduced in October 2021 and have recorded thousands of violations.
The cameras’ locations are as follows:
Junction of Spyros Kyprianou and Constantinopoleos avenues. Four cameras, phase one.
Junction of Archbishop Makarios -Spyros Kyprianou and Digheni Akrita avenues. Two cameras, phase one.
Junction of Griva Digheni and Demostheni Severi avenues. Four cameras installed during pilot phase.
Junction of Griva Digheni and Prodromou avenues. Four cameras, phase one.
Junction of Limassol and Athalassa avenues. Three cameras, phase two.
Junction of Limassol and Armenia avenues. Two cameras, phase one.
Junction of Archbishop Makarios-Nikos Pattichis and Archbishop Leontio A avenues. Four cameras, phase one.
Junction of Ayios Fylaxeos and June 16, 1943 avenues. Four cameras, phase one.
Junction of Nicos Pattichis and Spyros Kyprianou avenues. Four cameras, phase two.
Junction of October 28 and Iacovos Tombazi avenues. Three cameras, phase two.
Junction of Kolonakiou-Ayiou Athanasiou and Griva Digheni avenues. Three cameras, phase two.
Junction of Vasileos Constantinou A and Christakis Kranou avenues. Three cameras, phase two.
Junction of Archbishop Makarios and Ayia Zonis avenues. Four cameras, phase two.
Junction of Archbishop Makarios and October 28 avenues. Two cameras, phase two, only on October 28.
Junction of Amathus avenue, opposite Arisonoe hotel. Two cameras, phase two
Junction of Amathus avenue and Ariadni street. Two cameras, phase two
Junction of Spyros Kyprianou and Alexandros Panagouli avenues. Four cameras, phase two.
Junction of Archbishop Makarios avenue and Filios Tsigarides street. Two cameras, phase two.
Junction of Artemidos and Phaneromeni avenues. Four cameras, phase two.
Junction of Eleftherias-Eliades and Spyros Kyprianou avenues (Fradippou). Four cameras, phase two.
Junction of Europe-Yiannos Kranidiotis and Yiorgos Savva avenues. Four cameras, phase two.
Junction of Elladas- Dimocratias and Tassos Papadopoulos avenues. Four cameras, phase two.
Junction of Athinon and Christodoulos Sozos avenues. Four cameras, phase two.
Junction of Ayion Anargiron, Spyros Kyprianou and Agapinoros avenues. Four cameras, phase two.
INTERCITY ROAD NETWORK
Larnaca-Dhekelia coastal road between 3rd and 6th Two cameras, phase two.
Larnaca-Dhekelia coastal road between 6th and 9th Two cameras, phase two.
Old Paphos-Limassol road between 9th and 12th Two cameras, phase two.
Nicosia-Troodos road (Morphou) between 24th and 27th Two cameras, phase two.
Nicosia-Troodos road (Morphou) between 39th and 42nd km. Two cameras, phase two.
Atsas-Marathasa road between 3rd and 6th Two cameras, phase two.
The embattled traffic camera system is to finally move up a gear and exit its extended pilot phase, as now another 20 stationary cameras are to be installed within six months, the transport ministry said on Tuesday.
The 20 cameras will be placed across six intersections while another 16 mobile cameras will also be brought online.
It marks a significant development for the transport ministry which received mockery and criticism for the rollout of the programme. The pilot phase, meant to only last for three months, saw just four stationary and four mobile cameras being introduced in October 2021.
Nine months later and the ministry announced that the first phase will be completed within the next six months.
They said that the additional cameras will be gradually installed throughout next half-year. The second phase is when it really ramps up: a further 66 stationary cameras will be rolled out.
But the road so far has been rocky, with back-and-forth claims and counterclaims of who is to blame for the delays. It culminated with President Nicos Anastasiades hosting a meeting in June of senior ministers and officials, after which the transport minister issued a stern warning to the company to sort the matter out.
Early on there were warnings that the sheer volume of the number of fines was overloading the company assigned to handle and issue the paperwork. From October 2021 until June 2022, it had recorded 90,000 violations, with some drivers not receiving their fines months after the infraction occurred.
It was soon reported that there were difficulties in the identifying drivers and cross-referencing their details across various government databases and linking them to the correct address. It is understood that a person’s name may have been stored differently across various government departments, while some listed addresses were wildly inaccurate or out of date.
There has also been flood of complaints from the public who are eventually receiving their fines. One source of tension is that many are being fined for simply touching the white line at the intersections, once the light has gone red, even if the vehicle has not crossed over.
Haris Evripidou of the traffic department explained that in such cases a fine of just €25 is issued instead of the €300 had the vehicle fully crossed the line at a red light.
Some members of the public have expressed concern and have questioned why such cases are being investigated and burdening the programme when instead the focus should be on graver incidents.
He was also asked why drivers who are fined and wish to contest the claim are not able to review footage of the case, to which Evripidou replied that the current legal framework does not permit it. Currently, drivers are only provided with a photograph depicting the alleged infraction, with Evripidou stating that for it to be otherwise the law must be changed.
It was initially hoped that the pilot phase would be a period for the public to become acquainted with the system and that subsequently the volume of fines would decrease substantially.
There are fears that if more cameras are to come online then the system would be further choked and bogged down.
Police seized 19 motorcycles from their owners as part of a stepped-up campaign to prevent serious road collisions and noise pollution.
Limassol traffic police carried out traffic controls in city and surrounding countryside, as well as in places known to be particularly dangerous, where fatal road collisions had occurred in the past.
During the controls, police confiscated 19 large capacity motorcycles, eight of which were located in the countryside near Agros, while a total of 64 bookings were made for various other traffic offenses.
Police also caught a 19-year-old man driving a stolen motorcycle, while he was found positive in a preliminary drug test.
Targeted traffic controls continue 24 hours a day throughout the entire Cyprus road network.
Seventeen high-capacity motorcycles and five cars have been confiscated according to a police announcement on Monday.
In the context of preventing road collisions and noise pollution, Z team and traffic police carried out traffic control checks between Friday 7pm to Monday 2pm in Limassol.
Special attention was given to places where road fatalities and or noise pollution previously took place.
During the checks, 17 high-capacity motorbikes were confiscated for a variety of offences including modifications on the bikes’ frames and engines and driving without a licence or insurance.
Similarly, five cars whose drivers were found without a driving licence and/or insurance were also confiscated.
Additionally, during the above checks, 24 drivers were found to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
Of them, a 26-year-old subjected to an alco-test scored 80mg% while a 70-year-old scored 90mg%.
Moreover, 78 drivers were charged for speeding, 33 for driving without a valid driving licence and insurance while another 80 for other traffic violations.
Targeted checks from the police will occur daily across the whole Cypriot road network. Their sole aim is to strengthen the feeling of road safety and prevent and mitigate serious and fatal road collisions.
The transport ministry on Saturday hailed the recent approval of the amendment to the legislation on bicycles and other personal mobility vehicles, including e-scooters.
The ministry noted that although the use of these vehicles in Cyprus had been relatively limited, mostly seen in tourist areas, they became more prevalent after the pandemic period.
This has been attributed to people being more concerned with their impact on the environment, with e-scooters having a smaller carbon footprint than cars, as well as their reduced running cost during a period of economic turmoil.
“With the increased use of these vehicles in Cyprus, road collisions with scooters have been recorded, including a fatal accident,” the ministry said, pointing out that there have been reactions from local authorities to these problems.
In this context, the amendment to the relevant legislation, approved by the House plenum on Thursday, now stipulates that their permitted use on roads includes those with a maximum speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour, bike paths, as well as areas that form extensions of bike paths, with the latter forming a mixed area for both cyclists and pedestrians.
These vehicles can also be used in squares and sidewalks but only after this has been approved by the local municipality, council or community.
Moreover, the minimum age for the use of e-scooters has been set at 14, while the use of a helmet and high visibility vest at night time have been made mandatory.
The minimum equipment that such vehicles must have includes the brake system, front and rear lights, a bell and tyres. Their maximum permitted speed has been set at 20 kilometres per hour.
The ministry clarified that a transitional period will apply, allowing owners to get up to speed with the new regulations, particularly in terms of meeting minimum equipment requirements, as well as allowing rental companies to acquire the relevant permits.
The majority of Cypriots believe that traffic cameras will save lives on the road, and support the installation of more such units, a survey has found.
Carried out by IMR and the University of Nicosia, and commissioned by the police, the poll found that 70 per cent think that the cameras will help prevent and reduce deadly accidents. That view was held by 96 per cent of the sub-category of respondents aged 65 and over.
Regarding the penalties for traffic violations, 18 per cent of respondents wanted stiffer fines, 22 per cent less severe fines, and 50 per cent thought the current fines should stay as is.
Asked whether more cameras should be installed, 70 per cent said yes. Broken down by district, 74 per cent of respondents from Nicosia were in favour, followed respondents from Limassol with 71 per cent.
Only last month, the government said that the company operating the traffic cameras system would receive a warning in the wake of a series of failures that are holding up the full implementation of the system, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said.
Those caught violating the traffic code may also receive a text message or email informing them of the fine, the minister added, explaining that they are looking into tweaking the relevant legislation.
The president had to chair a meeting on the embattled traffic camera system to try and untangle the growing knot as the programme remains mired in its pilot phase.
The pilot phase began in October 2021 with just four stationary cameras active, a period which was initially only set to last for three months. But since then, local media reported that over half of the almost 90,000 violations which have been recorded have not had their subsequent fines sent out.
But Karousos hit back at those figures, stating that confirmed violations currently total 62,752 of which 47,192 have either been sent out or were about to be. However, that still left a considerable chunk of 15,000 fines to be handled.
Issues plaguing the camera system are varied, but a major hurdle was that the company was having difficulties issuing fines due a driver’s details appearing in different forms and not matching across the government databases.
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