Telefon:+352 49 93 93 93
While the Danish capital may be suffering the reverse problem to Luxembourg - too many bikes - Luxembourg, with its lack of a cycling culture had plenty to learn from the panel.
Guests included Klaus Bondam, former Copenhagen mayor, Lasse Schelder, from the Bicycle Innovation Lab, Frits Bredal of the Danish Cycling Association and Helle Soholt of Gehl Architects, who explained the explosion of cycling in Copenhagen to an audience of around 50 people at the Cercle Cité on Monday.
One in three cycle to work
Today, more than a third (36 percent) of work place trips in Copenhagen are made by bike, marking a ten percent rise compared with ten years ago. Klaus Bondam explained that much of the sea change occurred during the first oil crisis of 1972, pushing up fuel prices and forcing people to find cheaper more sustainable forms of transport.
“It's a crisis now because for many people buying petrol is a big portion of the budget. Maybe this is a good thing that will come out of the crisis,” he said. Copenhagen invested heavily in infrastructure and urban planning to make itself a bike-friendly city with 360 kilometres of cycle paths. So, why is Luxembourg unable to follow suit? The capital launched a cycling strategy six year ago, which is slowly bearing fruit and has resulted in an increase in bike take up, from 1 percent of journeys to 3 percent.
Luxembourg, not the champions of Europe
First City Eschevin and Green party MP François Bausch pointed out that Luxembourg's low taxes and cheap fuel do not give people enough of a financial incentive to ditch the car. That said, with 40 percent of all car journeys covering less than three kilometres, for some areas getting more people to cycle does not sound impossible. “We're not the champions of Europe but we've already a better average than before,” said Bausch.
The panel looked at a number of factors which could help grow cycling take up, including safety, investment in infrastructure, education and communication.
Increasing the feeling of safety, Helle Soholt pointed out, comes when a critical mass of cyclists is achieved. “When the number of cyclists goes up, the number of casualties goes down,” she said. She suggested working closely with police to identify accident hotspots and formulate solutions. “Sometimes it's paint, sometimes it's adjusting the traffic lights or creating better visibility,” she added.
Invest in cycling
Investment to create cycle paths and link them is a crucial factor, the panel pointed out. By reducing parking spaces in Copenhagen by up to 3 percent each year over 30 years, the number of cars in the city has stabilised, leaving space to build the network of cycle paths.
“You can always do the cheap thing with a little bit of paint. Politicians like that because it's easy and doesn't cost a lot. But, you have to invest in real construction. If you look at what we invest in the highways, it's interesting to see how much it costs to build one kilometre of highway. For the same price you get an enormous amount of bike track," continued Soholt.
The panel described pro-cycling campaigns launched in Copenhagen and called on Luxembourg's campaigners to do more to promote cycling.
Klaus said: “Work with bloggers and trendy messages. Because they can do things that a transport ministry can't do.”
The event was organised by the Danish Embassy to Luxembourg as part of the Fête du Vélo on June 17. See below for further details.