Article by Vélorution Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

Transportation is responsible for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of climate change. This is the case worldwide, and even more so in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where car congestion is reaching unprecedented proportions.

Many European cities have understood the ecological challenges of today and those of tomorrow’s mobility. by rapidly transforming their urban model to give much more space to soft mobility and calming motorized traffic in the city center. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Strasbourg, and Paris are leading the way. While Luxembourg, a conservative and “autophile” country, is much more timid when it comes to promoting soft mobility, despite its avant-garde policy of free public transport.

Luxembourg holds the sad record for the highest number of cars per capita: the causes are linked to both the economic model (company cars have become the norm), the culture and the influence of the car lobby.

However, the insolent economic success of the Tax Haven does not allow it to free itself from the laws of physics. The daily influx of some 200,000 cross-border workers causes considerable traffic jams every morning and evening, with its share of nuisances for health, safety and the climate. The dominance of the car is simply not sustainable and policies to promote other modes of travel are still far too timid.

Locally in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg’s second largest city with 36,000 inhabitants, the resistance is organized inspired by the Critical Mass movement. Cycling movement that began in the 1990s in San Francisco, USA, and has spread around the world. It is an informal gathering of cyclists who meet once a month to promote the use of cycling as a sustainable means of urban transport and to raise public and political awareness on the issues related to motor traffic, such as pollution, congestion and road accidents.

Thus, a few years ago, the Vélorution Esch was born from this collective action with the aim of showing that cyclists also have their place on the roads and that they need to be considered as legitimate users. But above all, to rethink the spaces of the city, urban planning, and the cities of tomorrow. In addition, other pro-bike associations have developed and started to federate to demand more space for cyclists.

These initiatives have succeeded in several years in bringing together hundreds of cyclists on several occasions. These mobilizations have shown that a large part of the population is ready to fully commit to sustainable mobility. A recent survey of the population of Luxembourg City confirmed this very clearly: the majority of citizens are ready to do without their car provided that the infrastructure and public transport allow them to do so.

The ball is therefore in the political camp that should finally take the measure of climate and societal issues to build cycling and welcoming cities instead of letting cars and real estate developers reign supreme.

In the streets of Esch, more and more people are taking their bikes to work, go shopping or drop their children off at school. Many participants join the Vélorution Esch and other Vélorutions in the country every month. At the moment, the “velorutionnaires” of Eschois are preparing their 10th edition, inspired by the universe of Jules Verne, to evoke more natural environments, machines running on less fossil fuels, and above all imagination to make our cities more breathable, more welcoming and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Changing the city to change life.