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.
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 is a broad consensus that infrastructure has to be segregated from car traffic wherever possible, especially on main axis with huge traffic.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
Meeting the needs of people in active mobility on local and regional level
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.
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).
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.
Best practice examples of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to be found/seen in Luxembourg’s municipalities
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.
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:
Secure bicycle parking: “mBox” project for the municipalities
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.
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.
Bicycling infrastructure: if any, the right kind, please!
The small, but important details to which attention must be paid
Every cyclist already experienced some day examples of bad infrastructure. LVI will feature infrastructure considered as good examples or even highly recommendable best practice.
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.
Discussion and questions
(This section will if possible be updated after the seminar on November 24th, 2016. Any input is highly welcome)
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