The question of whether the south of Luxembourg, i.e. the Minett UNESCO Biosphere region, is suitable for cycling or not is one that the PRO-SUD syndicate asked itself back in 2018. At that time, a major study on cyclability was carried out in the eleven member municipalities to find out to what extent the local infrastructure is suitable for cyclists.
To carry out this study, the existing cycle paths were inventoried. These were classified as traffic-free lanes, lanes that can be used without problems by bike, lanes that should only be used by experienced cyclists and lanes that are not suitable for cycling. As well as taking a detailed look at the current situation, the study also analysed the missing links in the network of cycling paths and drew up a list of priorities for improving the network of paths in the municipalities.
The current situation
Now, after five years, it’s time to take stock of what has been done so far to make cycling easier and safer in the Minett UNESCO Biosphere area. This can only be done in the field, by cycling along the various paths and roads analysed in the study.
This summer, Tim Eastwood is carrying out this inventory. Tim is studying geography in Innsbruck and is doing his master’s internship in the Minett UNESCO Biosphere. For the past few weeks, he has been travelling around the eleven municipalities. He uses either his own electric bike or a Vël’OK hire bike (available throughout the Minett area, except in the municipalities of Pétange and Käerjeng) to cover the cycle paths.
But Tim’s job isn’t limited to exploring the cycle paths. He is also contacting the eleven local authorities to find out to what extent the 2018 study has already been implemented or is due to be implemented, and how the study is helping local authorities to plan new infrastructures for active mobility.
Vëlodukt not listed
Last December a major element of soft mobility in the south of Luxembourg was completed. The Vëlodukt, which links the city centre of Esch to the Belval university district, is around 1.5 kilometres long and provides a direct and safe link between the old city centre and the new district. However, this link is still not included in international mobility portals, maps and applications. Tim Eastwood comments: “When I plan my route from Esch to the Rockhal, I’m taken through many small streets, but not over the new cycle path!” The student is convinced that infrastructure improvements need to be communicated to users of soft mobility means, otherwise they will only be used by people aware of the improvements. At the national level, however, the Vëlodukt is listed. As part of National Cycle Route 8, the new structure’s route is included in the Geoportail.
Another important part of Tim’s internship is to analyse cyclists’ access to public transport. Not all the railway stations in southern Luxembourg are equipped to accommodate cyclists. The shortcomings that Tim has already identified include the lack of connections with the network of cycle paths or the non-existence of ramps allowing cyclists to access the platforms with their bikes.
Tim will continue to tour the eleven municipalities of the Minett UNESCO Biosphere until mid-July, and will certainly be making some final recommendations on how to further improve our region’s cycling infrastructure in the years to come.