“We need to get away from the car.”

Philip Hercrath, vice-president of the Provolo Association, emphasizes the importance of cycling if we want to prevent mobility in urban areas. The promotion of two-wheelers goes a long way in establishing an adequate and secure infrastructure.

They had about 800 cyclists on June 4 to demonstrate the worthy name of a bicycle network and to demand better coexistence of road traffic. During the epidemic, a large number of people invented the bicycle as a means of transportation. According to Philip Herkrath, a ProVelo activist, politicians must have the courage to equate two-wheelers with four-wheelers.

Where does the bicycle take place in Luxembourg today or even in society?

Philip Harcrath: Bicycles have found a place as a means of daily transportation. In the last ten years, we’ve seen an increase of about 10% every year. This year, the number of cyclists could jump 60% compared to 2021. So it seems that people who invented or rediscovered two-wheeled vehicles during the epidemic will remain in the genes. We also see that the bike plays a major role in the National Mobility Plan 2035 (PNM), especially to cover short distances. In cities like Luxembourg or Esch-sur-Alzette, cycling is essential to avoid paralysis.

Apart from the increase in the number of cyclists, what can be learned from the roar of the epidemic?

The epidemic has accelerated things. Abroad, we’ve seen pop-up bike paths set up. We understand that adaptive infrastructure can be built quickly, upstream, without long planning. We hope that this lesson will be learned in Luxembourg as well.

Didn’t the success of cycling during the epidemic surprise some politicians?

Our association has been demanding and promoting adaptive infrastructure for many years. Bicycles are the means of mobility of the future and so we need to invest more in safe bicycle paths. Everyone is aware of it and studies also show it: with the right infrastructure, more people are encouraged to use bicycles. For the moment, and despite the current boom, we see that many are still hesitant to travel around the city by bike, for safety reasons. I think politicians now recognize the importance of cycling, but they are still fighting to make room for safer infrastructure.

For a very long time, bicycle paths were restricted by common marks on the ground or on plastic posts. Was it a planning error?

It is somewhat normal that with a limited number of cyclists, we are reluctant to take place away from cars to set up a safe bike path. In the past, politicians may also have more doubts about the role of bicycles in tomorrow’s dynamics. So we did what seemed realistic, but today, with the increase in the number of users and the role given to bicycles to ensure mobility by 2035, we need to take place away from cars and make it available to cyclists and pedestrians.

Has it become sweeter to give less space to motorists?

It is no longer possible to force cars and bicycles to share the same road or the same sidewalk for bicycles and pedestrians. We need separate, secure and quality infrastructure.

In urban areas, efforts to provide more space for bicycles are intensifying. At the same time, Provelo and other workers condemn regular hiccups, such as Bicycle Street in Luxembourg where motorists do not respect the priority reserved for bicycles. In Limpertsburg, a new separate, but partial track has again been occupied by cars as parking space. How to explain it?

It is not easy to explain. Exchange of views with the present municipal officials. For Rui Pasteur in Limpertsburg, we have made it clear to town councilors that this is a bad solution. We are certainly satisfied that efforts are being made to remove the parking space. In this particular case, however, cyclists, pedestrians and bicycles tend to come into conflict. In our view, it is advisable to block the whole of Rue Pasteur from car traffic. There still seems to be a lack of political courage to take this final step.

Could a bicycle path built on the Kirchberg Plateau serve as a model for running future projects?

Tracks adjacent to the tram route are a very good solution. It is important to have a continuous cycle path, clearly identifiable and separate from other traffic. Nevertheless, you must always consider the type of road infrastructure that presents itself to you. The very spacious boulevard cannot be compared to what is found in the Kennedy residential area. As mentioned in PNM, we must rely on solutions where the car can no longer travel from point A to point B with the shortest path. Access to the neighborhood should be restricted to those who live there or who visit there specifically. This will calm car traffic and therefore free up enough space for pedestrians, children playing on the streets and cycling.

One of your demands is the normalization of 30 km / h in urban districts. To promote this intercourse?

The reduced speed allowed, in fact, leads to calming the traffic. The danger is reduced. Transit traffic is declining. But the infrastructure must follow. At the moment, we still often have the following irrational situations: In Zone 30, with a fairly wide carriageway, you can drive, and the police then claim that they do not want to control the speed, because the infrastructure is not up to 30 km / h. Punishes users.

The report of road accidents in 2021 shows a 10% increase in seriously injured cyclists. How to explain this number?

I think the number of cyclists on the road contributes to this balance sheet. Those who have just invented cycling still lack exercise and therefore cycle with less confidence. Due to the small size of Luxembourg, the fluctuations are significant. In 2020, we had to apologize for three fatal accidents, but in 2021 none. Finally, we can conclude that the lack of proper infrastructure combined with the increased number of cyclists increases the risk of collisions between road users.

“It is no longer possible to force cars and bicycles to share the same road.”

In 2021, the police launched a massive awareness campaign for mutual respect on the streets. Where is the biggest problem? Next to motorists or cyclists?

The problem of intercourse is real. There are cyclists who take this place to the sidewalk thinking it is theirs. Even if I partially understand that a cyclist likes to ride on the sidewalk, we can’t forgive him for not respecting pedestrians. It must also be acknowledged that cyclists do not follow all the rules of the road. Cyclists should therefore not be excluded from more common cases of traffic violations. The message of mutual respect is certainly not bad. Yet, one would like to emphasize further that there is a huge difference between putting a person in danger in a car weighing two tons and doing it with a car weighing only 10 kg.

In response to a recent parliamentary question by the pirate team, Minister Henry Cox noted that in the last six months, no report has been made against motorists who do not respect a distance of 1.5 meters when overtaking a cyclist. Do the police provide adequate protection to cyclists?

The 1.5-meter provision has been engraved in the Highway Code for four years now. So it is necessary to provide a way to check whether this minimum distance is observed. We interviewed the police where they explained to us that they did not have the proper equipment. In other countries, this material is used. So it should be evaluated whether there is any legal gap or whether it is a technical error. For us, it is clear that a provision of the Highway Code cannot be controlled that we cannot tolerate. Overtaking a car too close is considered one of the main dangers for cyclists

Outside of this aspect of road safety, what are the major infrastructure flaws for cyclists outside of urban areas?

First, the network of cycle paths is not always continuous. There are dangerous crossing points. Second, existing tracks, especially between Esch-sur-Alzette and Luxembourg, force you to take a major detour. Currently one has to travel about 30 km. Reaches a 15 km, including an express track. This can make a big difference in whether a person wants to ride a car or not.

The idea of ​​a multimodal corridor, is mobility minister Franোয়াois Baush going in the right direction?

We need to see what the express tracks will eventually look like along the Dudgelan Motorway and the tracks leading to Esch. For concerned cyclists, however, it should be a jump in quality and therefore lead more people in the city to cycling.

Should we also ensure that companies provide cyclists with parking facilities, but also for bathing or changing?

This is an aspect that needs to be taken into consideration. However, a study by the German Automobile Club concludes that sanitary facilities at work do not play such a big role for cyclists. Those who take bikes to work have to cover fairly short distances or have a pedlake, which makes the trip more enjoyable. Having a safe cycling infrastructure and being able to park your bike safely, which can sometimes cost a few thousand euros, weighs a lot more in those aspects.

What is the power of cyclists to board the train?

We are in contact with CFL. They want to increase the ability of cyclists to get on the train. However, if we really plan to become a country where 10% of the journey is done by bicycle, it may at one stage become impossible to provide adequate power to the railways. Providing safe parking facilities at stations is much more important.

Can you define the following priorities so that the bike becomes a long-term means of mobility?

In the political camp, we now know very well that the bicycle is an integral part of tomorrow’s dynamics. We have benefited from the ministerial dynamics of the rank of déi gréng, but it is less a question of parties than of people. A gap in the design office still exists. Very often planners still have one Background Car based. So it still takes some time for the cycling perspective to become more integrated into these office or mobility services.

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