Asking the “Kleeschen”

Exclusive interview with Saint Nicholas by @luxembourgize on December 6th, 2016. As usual there’s some small talk. And then, after already having previously asked Pythagoras, Jhang the Blannen and John Connor in past months, we of course do ask Kleeschen’s opinion on planned demolition of Souterrain du Glacis in City of Luxembourg. Includes previously unseen footage illustrating case of Souterrain du Glacis

@luxembourgize: Welcome, Kleeschen. May I give precision for foreign readers that you are also known as Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas in neighour countries. How was your travel to Luxembourg?

Kleeschen: Fine, thanks. As there is no snow anyway and as I did not want to be stuck in worldly infamous Luxembourg traffic, I took the bus.

@luxembourgize: As followers of this account are mostly grown up people, and probably don’t believe in you anymore: could you prove that you took the bus?

Kleeschen: Why that defiance? Here you go, no problem (shows a photograph of Kleeschen sitting in a bus of City of Luxembourg). Do you start to believe again now?

Man on a mission: Kleeschen spotted in a bus in City of Luxembourg

@luxembourgize: Okay, I must say you convinced me.

What is your opinion about this other iconic man, also dressed in red and handing over gifts to children every December? Is there a competition between you and Santa Claus?

Kleeschen: Oh, please don’t get me started on that impostor pushed to Europe from the United States of America. He has been massively promoted by soft drink companies a century ago and still is.

@luxembourgize: And then there is this truck promoting high sugar beverage, while polluting air in town centers around Europe.

Promoting bad drinking habits and causing supplementary air pollution?

Kleeschen: Well, that really doesn’t make it better. You know, I am fully relying on public transportation and bus shuttles to get around in Luxembourg. See by yourself (video) how well organized my visits in Luxembourg are.

‘Zu Besuch beim echten Zinniklos’ feature by @wort_lu

@luxembourgize: Your origins are very old, you do have nearly millennial ties with Luxembourg. Could you tell us a bit about that?

Kleeschen: Oh yes. Historically spoken, I am Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century Greek bishop and gift-giver of Myra in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Empire (nowadays in Turkey). One of my relics came to the small locality Saint-Nicolas-de-Port (in contemporary french region Grand Est, former Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine) during eleventh-century.

A chapel that later became named Nikloskierch in my honor existed on Krautmaart in the fortress of Luxembourg from twelfth-century until its demolition in 1778/79.

Krautmaart in first half of nineteenth-century (Nicolas Liez — Voyage pittoresque à travers le Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. N. Reuter & Cie. ; V. Hoffmann, 1834, Luxembourg. [With drawings of Frantz Clément, Jean-Pierre Schmit & Jean-Baptiste Fresez])

@luxembourgize: That is quite an impressive history. And you still have today lots of fans among the very young and the ones that stayed young at heart. Let’s watch and listen:

Kleeschen: It is a big joy to see the children every year . Even if some are very afraid of my old companion, the Housecker.

@luxembourgize: And if I am well informed, you have even historical ties with the Glacis field in City of Luxembourg?

Kleeschen: That is totally right. The cemetery nearby is named in my honor: Nikloskierfecht. After demolition of Nikloskierch in 1779, that cemetery was transferred on the outside of the fortress walls. This was what the Glacis was about at that time.

@luxembourgize: So, you know what the Glacis has become today — a giant parking lot — and you do recognize its nevertheless undeniable role in active mobility?

Kleeschen: As the patron of children, merchants and the falsely accused (among others), reunited in a very special way through Schueberfouer on Glacis field, I am aware of the issue of the Souterrain du Glacis. It has been falsely accused of not being used by enough people.

Souterrain du Glacis, an active mobility “design for all” infrastructure for walking, biking and wheel-chaired people (not to forget baby buggies). This tunnel links the very popular Kinnekswiss in the public park with the Glacis field and the streets of Limpertsberg quarter
Urban art inside the tunnel of Souterrain du Glacis refers to the annual fair called Schueberfouer
“Nobody uses Souterrain Glacis” I: A woman walking her dog
“Nobody uses Souterrain Glacis” II: a couple crossing safely boulevard de la Foire, without any waiting time. Please notice that both photos were taken within 2 minutes on a late lazy Sunday afternoon.

@luxembourgize: Falsely accused of not being used by enough people? Do you too question the stats put forward to justify its closure and demolition?

Kleeschen: Look, I know everything about the dangers of being a pedestrian. Several horrifying crashes on plain middle of pedestrian crossings recently. People dying. How can one justify the demolition of such a piece of urban infrastructure as Souterrain du Glacis, which allows crossing safely a boulevard with heavy traffic? The Netherlands are full of such infrastructure, and the whole world praises their exemplary role in urbanism and mobility.

Making it worse, this active mobility infrastructure is on the direct active mobility path between the center of the city and several schools on Limpertsberg. As the patron of children, I simply don’t get it. How do they dare to demolish that?

@luxembourgize: Is there nothing you can you do about it?

Kleeschen: Not really that much. Wait, perhaps there is.

Here is some stuff that really deserves special mention:

A study that calls itself pedestrian audit and pretends walking people act like cars. It seems like heavily used paths through park aren’t included in scope either
Counting reportedly done during school holidays lead to conclusion that only 31 people used Souterrain du Glacis during a whole day. How is such a low figure credible if it is possible to see repeatedly 4 people at the same time there when walking or biking oneself through the tunnel? By bike it takes less than a minute from entry to exit to use Souterrain du Glacis. That is less than waiting times at traffic lights at pedestrian crossings, where some cars don’t respect anything by the way

(Kleeschen shouts for Housecker, also known as ‘ Servant Rupert’)

Can you please come over here?

Housecker: Here I am master. What shall I do for you?

Kleeschen: Please deliver the traditional cane to Mrs. Sam Tanson, for backing up that decision. Mrs. Sam Tanson should be in charge of mobility of all the people in City of Luxembourg. All the people, not only those driving a car! And tell her to change her car-centric world view for next year, please!

There are citizens living around Glacis field or even visitors that probably never park their car on the Glacis field, but simply have to cross that place everyday as a pedestrian!

Should she protest, please do remind her of the recent bike lane suppression on nearby Boulevard Victor Hugo.

And if you excuse myself now, I have a lot of work ahead. Good luck, see you next year, good bye!

@luxembourgize: Thank you Kleeschen, and see you next year!

This is not Kleeschen, but yet another walking person spotted in Souterrain du Glacis on that late lazy Sunday afternoon. Accompanied photographer not even included

Disclaimer: the cane handed over to @SamTanson by Kleeschen in this piece of writing may be fictitious, but it is however a symbolical reminder of the fact that people dying or being injured on pedestrian crossings in Luxembourg and elsewhere in the world are real. Since announcement of demolition plans for Souterrain du Glacis in late summer 2016, @luxembourgize has been consistently questioning that decision by posting facts under hash tag #SouterrainGlacis. It is already publicly known that the space liberated on Glacis side by removal of Souterrain du Glacis access ramps and stairs will be used as additional parking spaces. The tunnel will remain for technical purposes, but it will not be usable anymore by the people, who will have to take a detour to the next pedestrian crossing around Glacis field.