RTL Today contributor Charlotte Nauta explains why creative solutions are needed to get drivers to stick to 30 km/h in Luxembourg's cities.

Did you know that 73% of our capital’s streets are 30 km per hour zones (in terms of the total amount of streets)?

And 50% of the city’s streets in terms of kilometres are 30 km zones. Did you know that? I heard it recently in a political debate.

These numbers were mentioned with pride. It was delivered as something of an achievement. ‘Look at what the city has done in terms of safety and livability: 73% of our capital’s streets are 30 km per hour zones’. Woohoo!’

And I got that. It seems like a lot of 30 km/h zones and I was positively surprised by those numbers. Imagine, three-quarters of our capital’s streets are 30 km/h zones… (!)

The fact that I was so surprised, says a lot though. I hate to say it but I hardly ever drive 30 km/h in Luxembourg. It is not that I want to break rules or anything, but I like things done quickly. Be it cleaning the house, doing work, or getting from A to B.

Fun things may last a lifetime, non-exciting necessities should be done and over with as swiftly as possible.

Now don’t verbally attack me straight away. Yes, I confess that keeping to the maximum speed is not my strong suit. But, more and more, when it comes to 30 km/h zones, I really try, and I drive no faster than 35… But doing so has opened my eyes because cars in front of me all race off and those behind me form a traffic jam of aggressive, tailgating crazy-eyed lunatics that cannot appreciate my sticking to the rules.

I can honestly tell you that I don’t care for a second what someone behind me feels or thinks about me when I am following the rules and they don’t seem to want me to do that. But the above tells me quite clearly that a majority of people do not adapt their speed in 30 km/h zones.

I actually live in a 30 km/h zone, and I can confidently state – based on what I see every day - that around 80% of all cars that drive through our street do not stay below (or at least near) that speed limit.

So, I would say that there seems to be a big problem about 30 km/h zones and the fact that many people do not adhere to the rules.

The question is why?

I am sure there are more, but three points immediately came to mind.

First of all, I think many people don’t care about these rules because they don’t need to.

How often do we see children play in the streets in Luxembourg? How often do we see any other user of the roads than cars? I think the not-caring is a partly a result of the notion that it’s only cars on the road anyway. If streets are narrow, cars might adapt their speed, but I know of 30 km streets that feel like airplane landing strips, so sticking to 30 is a lot more ‘challenging’ there because it feels pointless.

Secondly, people get away with it.

There is so little control by police and so few speed camera’s around that there are no repercussions for speeding. No fines. If there is no enforcement of rules, many people will not adhere to them.

I realise that it seems very immature, but I am afraid that that is the truth: if we are not fined for speeding, we keep on speeding. I wish I was wrong on this point and my view of our traffic behaviour, but this is what I am witness to in our street every day.

And even if there are mobile speed checks, they are mentioned on the radio. So, people are informed as to where they can speed, and where they have to ‘play nice’.

Finally, I generally see very few signs.

Do you also sometimes notice a sign at the side of the road that says, ‘rappel 30 km’ or ‘rappel 50 km’. It means that it is a reminder of the speed limit. But that means there was an earlier sign of the speed limit, right? However, for some reason, I never see the first sign of the limit, only the ‘rappel’.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like to think that the problem lies with the signs, and rather the lack thereof.

I must say, there is one street that I think is almost exemplary when it comes to 30 km/h: it’s the Val St. Croix (parallel to the Route d’Arlon).

There are very clear and big signs on the side of the road, but there is more: big white drawings of bikes have been painted on the road and they come back every so many metres. You simply cannot drive down that road and not be aware of the speed limit. And it shows, the number of cyclists there have heavily increased (for Luxembourgish standards – it’s all relative) in recent years.

But I think that one exemplary road in my near vicinity is hardly enough. Plus, I think in terms of signs, a lot more could be done.

There are the obvious things to force people to slow down: speed bumps, alternating left/right parking spaces in such a way that cars have to slow down, things like that. But, considering the aggressive reaction I get when I stick (sort of-ish) to the maximum speed in 30 km zones, Luxembourg might have to get a little bit more creative.

So how about an investment that will make drivers aware of a 30 km zone in a positive manner? After all, it's been proven over and over that a positive approach is much more effective than a negative one.

How about using fun colours of asphalt on all our 30 km/hour streets? Yes, it’s a little bit more expensive, but the basis is still asphalt, something that we need anyway. Let’s liven things up a bit, colour the streets red, pink or green. And create fun signalisation to go along with it. Pink painted cycles on green asphalt, using paint that lights up at night. Or make signposts on the side of the road showing happy faces of children playing in the street. Paint sunflowers on the road or open up a competition for graffiti artists and whoever else is interested, to make a design for 30 km zones.

A little bit of creative thinking can conjure up great results.

I would love to have nice pictures on and near the side of the road. Not when I am doing 130 on the highway, but on a 30km/h road, it would be fine. Add a little to the scenery. And while that may be more expensive than grey asphalt, think of the money that is saved in car damages, insurance money, etc.

So, maybe Luxembourg should just its their imagination run free (and to be sure, add more speed cameras for those who are too grumpy to appreciate the positive approach).