Luxembourg's transport minister François Bausch spoke to RTL about the future of cycling in the Grand Duchy.
François Bausch explained that cycling is experiencing a renaissance in Luxembourg. Increasing numbers of people rely on bicycles to get around - but often face perils on Luxembourg's streets. "It is my opinion that we have a lot of work to do. We need to complement the current [cycling] boom with infrastructure policies; otherwise we risk having problems and accidents," the minister said in an interview with RTL.
Bausch cited the bike lane along the tram tracks in Kirchberg as a positive example of new cycling infrastructure. "This is what bike lanes should be like," he stressed, explaining that this cycle lane is separated from the normal streets and pavements for pedestrians.
The bike lane in Kirchberg nevertheless remains an exception rather than the rule in Luxembourg. In most cases, the minister explained, cyclists and other road users are forced to share the same streets, which can lead to dangerous situations.
Bausch added that many road users disregard prohibition signs in smaller streets. In other words, drivers enter streets that are reserved for residents and cyclists. Cyclists may feel safe on those roads but, "if nobody respects the signs, it becomes a treacherous sense of safety because cyclists will nevertheless face perils," the minister said.
He stressed the importance of increased checks on these roads. The tightening of the current regulations is also an option, he said. "Barring pedestrians, cyclists are the most vulnerable road users and we therefore need to protect them. It is important that municipalities develop individual concepts that we are then willing to support," Bausch explained. A step in the right direction would be feeder routes that connect the main cycling lanes across the country so that cyclists are no longer forced to cycle on busy roads.
And what does this mean more concretely? The minister cited the "spectacular projects in the south of the country." There is for instance a new bike lane connecting Esch-sur-Alzette with Belval. Other similar projects are in the making, including the bike lane between Luxembourg City and Esch.
Earlier this month, Bausch and Lex Delles unveiled plans to temporarily close 16 routes across the country to traffic in order to make them even more appealing for cyclists. When asked about this project by RTL, the minister explained that "municipalities have to participate, otherwise there is no use. If municipalities are not willing to take that step, we will not do it."
This is currently the case in Mullerthal, where individual municipalities are opposing the project. Other municipalities such as Clervaux and Weiswampach meanwhile contacted the ministry to express their support for the initiative - even beyond August.
The minister explained that he was aware that these projects will not be welcomed by everyone. He nevertheless stressed that cycling is part of the mobility of the future. "It is no longer a minority but there are thousands of people who cycle every day and their numbers are swelling," he concluded.