Soft mobility

Cyclist group wants car-free streets as pedestrian zone grows

Provelo would like to see the Rue du Fossé become car-free to allow cyclists to circulate safely without crossing paths with pedestrians Romain Gamba/Maison Moderne

Provelo would like to see the Rue du Fossé become car-free to allow cyclists to circulate safely without crossing paths with pedestrians Romain Gamba/Maison Moderne

At the start of 2023, the City of Luxembourg announced the expansion of the pedestrian zone in the centre of the capital, declaring several streets car-free for the sake of soft mobility. Luxembourg cycling association Provelo, however, wants more support for cyclists.

“In general, we welcome that the pedestrian zone is being expanded,” Provelo president Monique Goldschmit told Delano in an interview. The decision to include the Rue de la Boucherie, the part of the Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes located between the Grand-Rue and the Rue de la Boucherie as well as the section of the Grand-Rue located between the Rue du Nord and the Rue du Fossé in the centre’s pedestrian zone is important “so that pedestrians can feel safe,” she said.

Although the municipality in its statement had said it wanted to promote soft mobility and return public space to pedestrians and cyclists, it had announced the latter would only be allowed to travel on bike between certain times. A spokesperson for the administration confirmed cyclists could use the area from 10pm to 10am. “We used to be able to cycle there 24/7, and now we can only drive when the shops are closed,” said Goldschmit. The pedestrian zone, especially the Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes, features many bars and terraces--cyclists using this street in the late hours would therefore be safe for no one, “because it’s so full of people,” she explained.

A safe space for pedestrians and cyclists

Since the Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes is often crowded in the evenings, for the cyclist association, “it’s even more important that the Rue du Fossé becomes car-free. Right now there is constant traffic there, except during Saturday afternoon when there are a lot of pedestrians.”

Currently, the Rue du Fossé is open to motorised vehicles for deliveries (between 6am and 10am) and locals. However, “nobody respects the signage,” the Provelo president notes, meaning that other drivers use the street too. According to Provelo, the municipality said that the police could not check each car passing through the street. The organisation wants the city to take a more clearcut approach and prohibit all kinds of motorised traffic there instead.

“A harmonious co-habitation of pedestrians and cyclists is unfortunately not always possible in practice due to the configuration of the roads as well as the fact that terraces are present and it is the responsibility of the City of Luxembourg to ensure the safety of both users through an adapted regulation to guarantee,” responds the spokesperson for the capital. 

They add that the street “has been a shared space [for cars, pedestrians and cyclusts] since November 2020” and features a bike lane going in the opposite flow of vehicular traffic since April 2021. The VdL says its decisions were taken in accordance with local businesses and residents, but that it is also ready to discuss with all the actors from the district about further measures.

An alternative that doesn’t work

However, “the inspection of the vehicles is exclusively within the area of ​​competence of the police.” Cyclists could instead move in the opposite direction from rue du Fossé towards rue Notre Dame, and from there they can cross rue de l'Eau and rue du Rost to the bifurcation with rue Sigefroid the original itinerary, they suggest.

Ultimately, this does not appear as a safe alternative for the cycling association. Provelo welcomes the added space for pedestrians despite there being “no improvement” for cyclists, Goldschmit said. As compensation for the lost space, “the Rue du Fossé, which is now the safest cycling connection that we could use, unconditionally has to become car-free. Really car-free,” she said.