Following Monday’s analysis of which country tops Europe’s cycle safety leagues, local cyclists in chart-topping Luxembourg have suggested that, despite political progress, all may not be what it seems.
Having jumped from 19th to 13th in the European Cyclists Federation’s overall ranking of 27 represented territories, things are certainly improving for the population of 543,202, but it’s the small number of inhabitants and relatively high number of ECF members that may have produced the results.
Cycle Luxembourg’s Kasia Krzyzanowski said: "That ranking is based on the fact that there were no cyclist fatalities here (and in proportion to the very small population that puts us at the top), which is great of course, but there are also very few cyclists.
"There is very little safe urban cycling infrastructure here. We have good recreational bike paths in the countryside, and a few cycle lanes in some of the town centres, but in Luxembourg City, for example, most of the bike lanes are on-road. Though cycling infrastructure in the capital has doubled in the last 10 years according to local newspaper Luxemburger Wort, there is no cohesive network; many lanes just come to an abrupt end, leaving cyclists to navigate dangerous intersections with no guidance. Cycling in the Netherlands is far safer, but due to the number of fatalities they fall below us."
That’s echoed by Samantha Georg of the Lëtzebuerger Vëlos-Initiativ, who told BikeBiz: "Although the number of cyclists in Luxembourg is indeed steadily rising, the source of the good results are mainly our member figures (more than 1,300 members for about 500.000 inhabitants) and the road fatalities in relation to our small population.
"The ECF Cycling Barometer doesn’t really reflect the situation on our roads. Especially if you consider the great improvement over one year, there have not really been any significant improvements in road safety or cycling infrastructure over that last year that would justify this jump."
Much like the UK, Luxembourg has just had a shake up of its political landscape, with positives emerging for active travel – though large scale demonstrations have been a catalyst for some of the bigger cycle projects currently on the table.
ABOVE: Dedicated bike infrastructure on the main bridge in Luxembourg City which is currently under renovation – the plan is now to create a hanging bridge underneath just for cyclists
"We’ve a new Minister of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, who is a member of the Green party and a cyclist himself," says Krzyzanowski.
Describing that 2013 appointment as a major change, given that it’s the first time in the country’s history a Green representative (known to locals as Déi Gréng) has been elected, Georg suggests that real progress may not be far off.
"The new Minister for Sustainable Development who is also in charge of the Department of Transport is a cyclist himself and in his former role as alderman of the City of Luxembourg was responsible for the development of bicycle planning in the capital. It was during that time that most of the infrastructure in Luxembourg City was planned and build. As a Minister he immediately established something called ”cellule mobilité douce” (department for cycling and pedestrian mobility) that is in charge of planning the national cycling infratructure and we have high hopes that this will improve intelligent bicycle planning in Luxembourg! There has also now been a modification of the law concerning the development of the national cycle network, which allows greater flexibility in infrastructure and hopefully will allow to build some major infrastructure blocked for years."
"The latest developments will bring some major improvements for cycling in Luxembourg, but I’m afraid that these developments are too recent to explain the newest results of the ECF Cycling Barometer."
The soft mobility branch of the transport ministry (Mobilitéit) is also promoting cycling via a spring/summer cycle to work challenge.
Luxembourg City is also benefitting from an expanding network of bike hire.
Cycling statistics are notoriously hard to generate. In compiling the report the ECF did stress: "The objective of this barometer is to trigger discussion on cycling, cycling policy and cycling development at national level EU wide.
"Our campaigning aim from this work is to get the EU to acknowledge the importance of reliable cycling data across both time and countries so that these data sets and others will be updated on a regular basis."