Back in December a brand new bi-directional dedicated bicycle lane was opened running the length of Kirchberg, and here at Cycle Luxembourg we are...
As well as Sunday being the last day of the official Coffeeneuring 2017 challenge it also marked World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Road Traffic...
Back in December a brand new bi-directional dedicated bicycle lane was opened running the length of Kirchberg, and here at Cycle Luxembourg we are very happy about it indeed.
What we LOVE: – Width/comfort, segregation, protection
What we DON’T LOVE: – lack of integration, lack of prioritisation
What we WANT: – Bollards!
Under a carpet of snow we witnessed the biggest unveiling of cycle infrastructure since the Pont Adolphe underpass. This may be less aesthetically pleasing than the bridge, but promises to be more beautiful in a practical sense.
Overshadowed by the opening of the tram, funicular and new railway stations the cycle path could actually be the easiest method for travelling around the plateau.
The first thing to notice is that it is wide; very wide. For most of its 3.2km it’s 3 metres, which is exceedingly generous and comfortable for any city cycle path anywhere. In addition to this luxury it is fully, and properly, segregated for almost it’s entire length with kerbs and planted ‘islands’ on both sides. True, motor vehicles can (and sadly do, daily) enter, usually to park, at the junctions but this could be easily remedied with a bollard in the centre (There were car tracks visible in the snow on Day One!). As for people on foot they finally have a safe and dedicated path for walking, on this side of JFK at least. Hopefully this should soon also be true on the other side when the old bus lane is converted. The long section in front of d’Coque which allows cars and lorries to use the cycle path is both hugely disappointing and unnecessary.
The junctions have dedicated cycle traffic-lights, many with automated beg-buttons. Whilst this lacks somewhat in terms of prioritisation it should provide good safety at the many junctions. At the moment the integration of the path with existing paths in Kirchberg is not great, but this can be solved with a little imagination. Likewise the links at either end, with the PC2 and the tram/funicular stop and bridge, are far from ideal. It is deeply disappointing that the latter area is shared with those on foot and has no access on this side of the bridge for cyclists. This truly needs looking at urgently. At the other end we have an unsatisfactory, and narrower, shared space petering out before the tram stop. This also needs a decent (and fairly easily done) link with PC2, and our great desire is for a path to run alongside the tram all the way to the proposed end of the line. With a Vel’oh station at the airport it could become the easiest and quickest to access in the world. We must also praise the additional M-Boxes that provide safe cycle storage; one at each here and at the bottom of the funicular.
It is, of course, a very visible commitment to cycling in city and very important for that. It is imperative, however, that it is linked with other great infrastructure to make sure people can easily and safely use their bikes as the obvious A to B choice. As with all our reservations and concerns, however, we must recognise the progress certain individuals in Government and in the City Council have created. It is clear that without them we would not have the tram, and this path would never have been conceived of, let alone realised.
We must not be complacent in our determination to change Luxembourg from a polluted car-centric city to the beautiful people-focussed place we know lies hidden within. And as we go along this journey we should also pause occasionally and look back to where we were, and where we are now.
We are on our way!
a more detailed report is available here
Luxembourg’s First Family putting the ‘fun’ in to ‘funicular’
2017 has seen much new infrastructure unveiled across Luxembourg, and here are some thoughts on the latest.
Liveable Cities: Liveable Luxembourg
There’s a new buzz in Kirchberg – literally. The gentle hum heralds the return of trams to Luxembourg. This super-modern version promises to revolutionise transit in the city, and certainly will up on the plateau for now. It’s smooth, efficient and, crucially, has a regular and plentiful service; a train every six minutes. In addition it’s free to use now and during January.
The resident and working population of Luxembourg is expanding at a rate greater than the boundaries of the city; of course the centre cannot grow. It has been stated, correctly, that “no city in the world has solved its transit problems through the private car” and anyone who has been in a motor vehicle here can see that capacity is at breaking point. Add dwindling resources, pollution and the public health problems associated with inactive lifestyles it is clear that alternatives need to be explored.
The second Sunday in December saw the unveiling of the physical manifestation of the concept of “mobility chains” on a wonderful snowy and sunny winter’s day. This vision, of the Minister for Transport is that fully linked transport modes will enable overall decreases in journey times, even when changing modes. In practice, for example, the train to Pfaffenthal, followed by the funicular and then the tram will see you at the office quicker than driving.
Space for Cars – Why the Tram and Cycle-Path are Good for Motorists.
In addition we finally have a properly segregated cycle path here! It’s a beautifully simple and powerful idea; keep those on foot, those on bikes and those in cars fully separated and fully safe. It is impossible to underestimate the importance of this. Pedestrians will be encouraged as not only are they no longer forced to share space with cyclists, the cycle path also acts as a ‘barrier’ keeping motorised transport off the sidewalks. (This is a problem here which is rising to epidemic proportions; and is proven to endanger lives, especially those of children. I beg anyone reading; just never do it, it’s illegal, anti-social and dangerous). Secondly, cyclists will of course be delighted but more importantly will multiply. Good, safe, infrastructure always encourages this quick, easy and healthy method of urban transport. Finally by clearing the two carriageways (along JFK) of bikes and busses, it will actually be better for those in cars too, especially as many car drivers will hopefully switch mode, leaving fewer cars on the urban roads.
There is also a revolution on the rails as well. We have two new stations, at Pfaffenthal and Howald. The funky new funicular railway moves people swiftly up or down between Kirchberg and the new Pfaffenthal station. Then move by foot, by (velo’h) bike, by tram or by bus swiftly to your destination. This is the ‘mobility chain’.
A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport Enrique Peñalosa
Now allow me to confront the elephant in the room or, in our case, the rhinoceroses charging around our beautiful little city.
Who is this infrastructure for? I’ve seen it said that ‘cyclists’ will be happy, and that it will cut travel time for those already coming by train from the north to Kirchberg (it will; maybe by as much as half).
But this isn’t the real point of it. Some may appear to be reluctant to say it but is it is all about getting people out of their cars. We need to take a step back and understand that transport policy must be about moving people (and goods) around an urban space; its primary function is not to move and store large steel boxes with wheels. With this in mind we can see that by providing more efficient transit solutions then we can deliver more people into and around the city. This can free up space as well as make the city healthier and friendlier.
The train lines from the north and the south (from Esch) and east will now be continuous lines. They will still stop at Gare Central, of course, but there will be no need to change trains to continue your journey. So now leaving the car outside of the congested city becomes much easier all round. Train travel is relatively inexpensive here; you can park at the rural stations for free; you can take your bike on the trains for free, or park them safely at the increasing number of “M-Boxes”.
Unfortunately there is a sad truth that politicians are facing today, and it is that cars pollute, they endanger and they hurt business by having too many people sat in jams instead of working or buying. Who wouldn’t want quieter, calmer, child and business friendly streets? Well it sometimes appears that many do not; every attempt at segregated cycle lanes is met with a lot of resistance. Every attempt to calm or remove traffic also.
Yet everywhere in the world local businesses have benefited from more people-orientated streets, mostly in an integrated system. Kids can play out. A community, sliced in half by this ugly, smelly, dangerous menace, soon re-forms and benefits all.
If this sounds like idealistic twaddle, look at the old town centre. How many business, locals or visitors are crying out to allow cars back in?
Why not leave the car at home tomorrow. Jump on a train, a bus, a tram, a funicular, a bike, your feet. A better future awaits.
picture credit Eng Postkaart den Dag
As well as Sunday being the last day of the official Coffeeneuring 2017 challenge it also marked World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Road Traffic Accidents. In addition to this it is 4 years (and a day) since the Cycle Luxembourg ride that brought together a married couple.
With these three things in mind we organised a ride which looked at specific infrastructure and led to some discussions on how to keep people on bikes and people on foot safe. We crossed over and under many of the bridges, and also were tempted by the new bi-directional fully segregated bicycle path along JFK in Kirchberg (opens 10th December 2017 – so we didn’t use it yet). Finally we ended up in the Chocolate House to fulfil the terms of the Coffeeneuring project; Hot Chocolate as well as coffee is officially permitted.
The weather had been awful for a week or so, but Sunday proved a lovely sunny day, and was as “warm” as 6 or 7 degrees. Meeting at the back of Auchan Kirchberg we set off along the cycle path through to d’Coque, and across JFK, from where you can even glimpse the Cathedral.
Over the red bridge, and round the back of Pescatore (new infra!), then across the road to bemoan that rock in the park. It has been put there to curb cyclists, for some reason, yet causes more problems between those on foot and those on wheels than ever there were before.
We went under the Pont Adolphe twice; once on the new hanging bridge, and once alongside the Péitruss. Not a single member of the party could be persuaded to show us any tricks on their bike at the huge skate park, installed this summer under the Passerelle bridge. Next we warmed up by heading up Rue Sosthene Weis to pass below the Pont du Château (Bock Bridge); up the new lift; back to the top of that bridge; up the newly peaceful Rue Sigefroi; and finally into the crowded Chocolate House to warm up, having locked the bikes up in front of the Grand Palace.
A lovely ride, with great company, to end this year’s CL rides; see in you the spring!
Many thanks to Tristan for the best photos.
Looking for an interesting afternoon meeting new people Andrea joined one of our rides, four years ago. Here is her story…
Having been a cycling commuter in the mean streets of London it was natural I would continue to cycle to work once I moved to the more genteel Luxembourg in November 2013. It’s a wonderful way to start the day, as well as being quicker than the bus or car. All the stresses and worries of the day are worked out of your system by the bicycle on the return in the evening, as well.
In addition to being an excellent and swift means of essential transport the bicycle is also a wonderful leisure activity; and a ‘passport’ to friendship. So cycling was always my passion and getting to know a new country, culture and people is always nicer on two wheels. I decided, therefore, to join a cycle group immediately upon my arrival. I soon discovered Cycle Luxembourg and to my delight they had a ride planned the very next weekend.
A nice mixed group of about a dozen people met up by the public bike pump at Rond Point Schumann on that (fateful!) cold November day. Guillaume (now my friend) led us on a lovely ride to the west. The names of these places so unfamiliar to me then: Strassen, Garnich, Bertrange. We finished at Les Thermes, looking to warm ourselves up with a sauna and some hot chocolate.
“See that man, he’s all alone / I ring my bell and smile at him” Hopkins/Burgess – My White Bicycle
By now I was warm and happy, and reflecting on how the bicycle had helped me discover some great new people and allowed me to see a good slice of this beautiful country I had arrived in. And I had only been here a couple of weeks!
One member of the group asked me for my number as he hoped to meet up again some time. I laughed and politely declined; I’d only just moved to Luxembourg, I had a brand new challenging job to settle into. I had no time or inclination for meeting someone right now!
“Thinking of a girl I met / A phone call I haven’t made yet” Mark Ronson – The Bike Song
A couple of weeks later I was enjoying a warming cup of mulled wine at my first Christmas market in Luxembourg when a familiar voice said “Hello”. It was the handsome cyclist from the CL ride! We had a lovely evening at the market and this time I did give him my number. He called, we went to many concerts at the Rockhal, we got on very well and cut forward to the spring of 2016 and it’s our wedding day.
“…no leave take I; for I will ride, as far as land will let me, by your side” Richard II Act I, Scene 3
It has been four years now since we met on that first ride and I continue to enjoy exploring new places and meeting my old friends and making new ones. We still cycle a lot, and still join Cycle Luxembourg for their rides, why don’t you join us on the next one? I can’t guarantee that you’ll find a spouse along the way; but you will find a great time and some new friends.