Lëtzebuerger Velos Initiative’s 2016 seminar on active mobility infrastructure — preview

On November 24th, 2016, a seminar organized by Luxembourg’s leading cycling advocacy group will discuss several aspects of everyday cycling, with a focus on infrastructure on a local level. Here’s a completely unofficial preview by Luxembourgize! featuring input from its Twitter community.

Links to slides used in seminar have been added (Nov. 25th) for easier retrieval, with important disclaimer that the topics included in this preview are not necessarily completely addressed by the slides.

A pimped version of the LVI invitation by @luxembourgize to emphasize that segregated infrastructure is on an international level considered as state of the art for the protection of everyday biking people
Post scriptum update: here are the slides published November 25th, 2016 by Klima-Bündnis Lëtzebuerg

Social media and everyday cycling is a never ending story. The incredible amount of accounts dedicated to that topic is only surpassed by the huge number of tweets released on a daily basis. Lots of these tweets refer to infrastructure required for safe cycling.

There are countless studies with similar conclusions: segregated bike paths are a must in urban context
There is a broad consensus that infrastructure has to be segregated from car traffic wherever possible, especially on main axis with huge traffic.
Is there no way out of THIS?

On a daily basis, people practicing active mobility are confronted with road congestion, air pollution and dangerous driving

The LVI seminar addresses the options on a national level to enhance and develop specific infrastructure to support active mobility. As a country with limited space, Luxembourg has an overall rural character. So how to create better and safer cycling conditions on a local level in villages should not be neglected, as well as how to connect the dots between villages and smaller towns.

It is urgent to act in a coordinated way on cycling infrastructure, as more people switching to bicycles for their commute would definitely help lower congestion of roads caused everyday by cars. It is a matter of fact that safety issues are still a very strong deterrent to everyday cycling in this country.

But of course there is! On social media hash tag #mvos365 shows that there is a growing group of people riding their bikes all year round on their daily commutes, some on distances way bigger than 5km

Pretended lack of bicycles’ speed isn’t anymore a valid reason to use a car, as proved recently by national TV

RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg recently broadcasted two features that proved that at the end of the day it is possible even for a commute of over 20km to beat cars and trains with a pedelec!

With more adequate cycling infrastructure, commute distances like those usual in Luxembourg would definitely throw cars from mobility throne.
It was exciting news to hear that Mister Science accepted the challenge!
Mister Science proved in a feature on RTL that it was already possible to beat a car on longer commutes (20km) in Luxembourg. He was not using a S-pedelec or an eBike, just a simple pedelec limited to 25km/h was enough for the task!
A car-centric road and street environment does not contribute to a more fair society. Owning and operating one or often several cars is expensive for an increasing number of families
Active mobility enhances quality of life

Connecting the dots…

#LVIinfraseminar seminar features several aspects: legal rules, update of signs for dedicated cycle paths and routes, how to connect the dots in a municipal/regional approach, existing best practice infrastructure and secure bicycle parking for multi-modal commuters.

Political will on a local level does matter, without it becomes difficult to develop safety of active mobility. Question really is: what attractivity does a car at rush hour have left?
Political will on a local level does matter (II): not starting such a project without having bought required land first was the issue in that example
Was there no space left for an (previously existing) bike lane or was there no political will? With painted lanes, price was probably not the issue in this example

Foremost, creation of new cycle paths and lanes requires political will, space and funding. But even if these 3 conditions are united, there can exist different opinions or options, more or less compatible, about which kind of infrastructure should be realized. The seminar obviously has a focus on the information needs of local authorities.

Despite people working and living nearby, there aren’t even sidewalks on this very busy road at proximity of national airport
This especially silly case prominently featured on Twitter made the point that even on a dedicated bike path, people are not safe from cars causing incredible crashes

So after that introduction, here’s a totally unofficial, commented and illustrated version of the official LVI infrastructure seminar program:

The “Code de la route” for pedestrians and bicycle riders

Under what conditions can cycle paths and lanes be established? Under what conditions can a one-way street be opened to bicycles coming from the other direction?

Legal aspects have of course to be taken into account when planning cycling infrastructure.

In Luxembourg, pedestrian crossings are dangerous places
As a lot of people do live in urban areas, it becomes obvious what kind of problem motorized traffic has become
“Taming the bull in the china store” — Mikael Colville-Andersen
Speed limits are a matter of the law

Among a lot of other things, the famous “Code de la route” contains definitions to what is considered to be a bicycle. Upcoming (S-)pedelecs and eBikes, which are of great help to tackle sometimes challenging topographical conditions in Luxembourg, can be illegal on the national cycle paths network if they are too powerful. This is really a strange thing, if one thinks of the fact that there is virtually no limit to how many horses a road legal car is allowed to have under his bonnet. Urban active transportation ecosystem of mobility means is not limited anymore to classic bicycles anymore. Is it of any help to factually declare illegal kick-boards etc.? Are they really more dangerous than diesel-guzzling 2 tonne weighting cars? Finally, let us not forget that there are places on the national road network that are literally hostile to pedestrians. People running as a recreational sport are to be counted among pedestrians too after all. Is it still acceptable that some road connections (besides highways) are designed only for cars?

Slides of the November 24th, 2016 presentation

New street signs for cycle paths and how to finance bicycle infrastructure

How should cycle path signs be designed in the future? What can be financed by the Luxembourg government?

Sarcasm aside: good signage is important for cyclists to navigate around national cycling paths network
Signage of cycling routes benefits tourists too. To enhance signage with additional information about points of interest actively promotes cycling as a transportation mode
Signage of cycling routes connects the dots, especially at places where dedicated infrastructure is still missing or where navigation is not obvious for non local people
Maps, on-line or offline, always remain useful as a fall-back option. LVI produces yearly the well-known map of national bike path network [PDF for download here]

Quick deployability of signage is one of its several advantages. But signage will not be enough on its own. Missing cycling infra on dangerous parts of road network cannot be replaced by signage, and still has to be implemented.

P & Ch — Nei Beschëlderung Vëlosweer (slides of the November 24th, 2016 presentation)

MDDI — Subsides de raccordement (slide of the November 24th, 2016 presentation)

Initiative for defining a municipal/regional cycling concept

Towards a coherent overall plan for the municipality/region

‘Communes’ (overview map) do matter in Luxembourg, and it should not be forgotten that City of Luxembourg is just one of them. The national bike path network aims to connect as much communes of the country, to create a complete network.

“Luxembourg rising star in cycling world?” (ECF article in 2016)

In an 2016 article, European Cyclists’ Federation wrote: The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is putting itself firmly on the cycling map by investing unprecedented amounts of money into the development of cycling. […] Luxembourg Transport Minister, François Bausch, is walking the talk. After he successfully steered through the ‘EU Cycling Summit’ approving the ‘Declaration of Luxembourg on cycling as a climate-friendly mode of transportation’ on October 7, 2015, he later that month went public with his ambitious plans that should give cycling a major boost at home.”

The blue print for the coming years can be found in the ‘Loi du 28 avril 2015 relative au réseau cyclable national et aux raccordements de ce réseau vers les réseaux cyclables communaux’. This law takes into account important aspect of connecting ‘communes’ on a local level to national cycling paths network.

Topographical obstacles visualized by big data: Cents-Neudorf-Kirchberg DIRECT bridge project would be a game changer similar to Pfaffenthal lift, but for the moment political consensus has not been reached to build it

Meeting the needs of people in active mobility on local and regional level

How to discourage people coming from the south-east region to City of Luxembourg to use a bicycle: offer a car-only highway with a shorter, more direct and topographically less challenging route
Using big data, it was demonstrated that announced demolition of active mobility infrastructure called ‘Souterrain du Glacis’ isn’t probably a great idea. Unfortunately, this issue has since not been commented further from official side

The whole world is talking about data and its applications. @Strava and other apps can provide spectacular insight in existing mobility pattern in active transportation.

In Luxembourg, active mobility is considered to be hazardous on large parts of existing road network, at least for non members of the ‘lycra fraction’

In the Netherlands, countryside roads mostly have segregated cycle paths going in parallel. In Luxembourg, this is rarely the case. Because lack of space, it isn’t even possible everywhere to implement such infra. So, when road space has to be shared, speed limits become of special interest.

If active mobility is defined as walking and biking for everyone, including the children and the elder, the existing road network does not everywhere allow to safely move around.

Suppression of existing bike lane on Avenue Victor Hugo approaching Limpertsberg schools was noticed in a negative way by a lot of people in the everyday biking community

This preview would not be complete without a reference to the stages of the DICI bike initiative of the ‘communes’ around City of Luxembourg: ‘Dici.tour 4Y0U’ (2011–2012), ‘Planification d’un réseau infrastructurel cyclable connecté à celui de la Ville de Luxembourg au niveau de l’espace DICI’ (2013–2015) and currently ‘Analyse de la cyclabilité du réseau infrastructurel dans l’espace DICI’ (2016, ongoing).

That DICI bike is work in progress is the least that can be said. But this is an important initiative and Rome wasn’t built in a day either.

It should finally not be forgotten that crossing borders with a bike must also be possible. There is e.g. an initiative in the 3 border region LU-BE-FR that will be co-financed by European Union in the coming years:

So, initiatives for defining a municipal/regional cycling concept are national work in progress. It is again a matter of connecting the dots.

LVI — Anleitung Radverkehrskonzept (slides of the November 24th, 2016 presentation)

Best practice examples of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to be found/seen in Luxembourg’s municipalities

Sincerely, which experienced person would bike that curve on the painted lane and undergo the risk of being trapped between a car and the sidewalk?
Even if national petition n°713 deposited at ‘Chambre des Députés’ was not a landslide success, 229 persons signed it in favour of more safety for walking and biking people
Intersections are always difficult to handle, especially when cars are driven without paying attention to other, more vulnerable road users
This recent update on a DICI bike network segment got mixed reviews by final users. Visibility at night of road blocks can be an issue, hitting one of those would be dangerous
Don’t be mistaken by this brilliant low light photo: it is way darker in reality. Would you see the poles or would you crash into them?

Twitter account @luxembourgize features a lot (re)tweets of what can be seen in the City of Luxembourg and sometimes in other parts of the country. It should not be forgotten that there are other municipalities with bike infra. In Esch-sur-Alzette, some pieces of infra are promising too.

Walking people want to have shortcuts, it makes no sense to them to walk around edges if there’s a way to walk through the middle of a place
Without any doubt, Pfaffenthal lift opening after years of waiting time is 2016’s active mobility infrastructure highlight

It will be interesting to see which are the examples put on display in the seminar as best practice. To say the least, even among biking people, there is no unanimity about what should be considered a best practice. Opinions can diverge, and sometimes what planners realize is afterwards rejected by biking people.

Furthermore, it cannot be stated often enough that disabled people in wheelchairs and families with baby buggies do largely benefit from adequate sidewalks and bike paths. Unlawful parking of cars on such dedicated infra is a recurrent topic on Twitter, and this problem should always be specifically addressed by planners.

Here are the slides of November 24th, 2016 presentations:

Best practice — Ell

Best practice — Preitzerdaul

Best practice — VdL Fussgängerkonzept

Best practice — CIGL Vël’OK

Secure bicycle parking: “mBox” project for the municipalities

Bike theft and vandalism are an issue in Luxembourg too

To encourage multi-modal commuting and traveling, the mBox initiative by @mobiliteit_lu aims to install secure bike parking facilities near trains stations. A mBox is literally a cage featuring secure access with a smartcard and bike racks inside. As an additional service, mBoxes also provide tools (as can be seen in above tweet) for sudden repair needs.

Riding a bike in rush hour to a mBox and catch a train afterwards is where things get less fun.

It’s the missing or inadequate infra at their proximity that is often wrong, if not even dangerous like on this infamous example in City of Luxembourg. Parking for cars is still more worth than the life of people practicing active transportation
It shall not be forgotten that already several crashed involving people on bicycles happened on Avenue de la Liberté. Safe(r) cycling infra on roads with a high traffic volume is especially important and should have a higher priority
There are signs that the talk will be walked, but there’s also a lot of impatience in the active mobility community, which is paying a huge toll because of safety issues on the roads (some being related to infrastructure)

There is nothing wrong with the mBoxes. Really. It is the lack of segregated infrastructure leading to them on roads and streets with heavy motorized traffic that is often to criticize.

Verkéiersverbond — Mbox (slides of the November 24th, 2016 presentation)

Bicycling infrastructure: if any, the right kind, please!

The small, but important details to which attention must be paid

Dedicated infrastructure of good quality can help save lives or avoid injuries. Road safety stats are very affirmative on the fact that it is urgent to act on that point.

Every cyclist already experienced some day examples of bad infrastructure. LVI will feature infrastructure considered as good examples or even highly recommendable best practice.

‘The not so serious complete guide about how to complain about cycling infra in Luxembourg’

Again: It will be interesting to see which are the examples put on display in the seminar as best practice. To say the least, even among biking people, there is no unanimity about what should be considered a best practice. Opinions can diverge, and sometimes what planners realize is afterwards rejected by biking people.

LVI — Wann da richteg (slides of the November 24th, 2016 presentation)

Discussion and questions

(This section will if possible be updated after the seminar on November 24th, 2016. Any input is highly welcome)

23 years later, Luxembourg still hasn’t a complete active mobility network on a national level
Vigorously reallocating road space to active mobility takes political will and courage
Self-driving cars are a future trend ready to hit the road: will they contribute to curb down the stats of injured and killed vulnerable road users?
Distracted driving is an urgent issue. People die because of inattention of an increasing number of drivers
Infrastructure for active mobility and urbanism are closely linked
Housing being built at Cloche d’Or in Luxembourg will feature active mobility infra
Imagine what would be possible if some space would be taken away from the cars!
Just for the beauty of it: how many people do miss these magical moments

Disclaimer: this blog post is not an official LVI statement. Its only purpose is to allow a better understanding of the state of play to the international everyday biking community in Luxembourg and of course any other person interested in the topic. Thanks go to @mikebikelux for his help in translating LVI programme (which form the main titles and some subtitles of this blog post), and to every follower of @luxembourgize on Twitter. You did notice something missing, an error, you do disagree with one point or do have a question? Then please send a message over Twitter. This blog post might be updated several times to include new information and input. Current version is November 22, 2016