Luxembourg's (timid) shift towards soft mobility

By Sarah RaparoliLex KlerenMisch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Discussions about car-free cities and streets always leads to heated tempers: some are in favour, others against. But there can very well be an in-between. How shared spaces can ease the transition and how well the car-free neighbourhood in Limpertsberg works.

"I rather ask myself: 'Who wouldn't want that?'" Together with Monique Goldschmit, we are standing in Verger Ermesinde. The car-free neighbourhood in Limpertsberg is a 15-minute walk away from the city centre. She is not wrong, because one feels anything but in a capital city here. Luxembourg is not the same as a big city, of course, but still, this silence seems almost unreal. Twenty seconds ago, we were in the Avenue de la Faïencerie, a busy street in Limpertsberg. The noise, the traffic, the hustle and bustle, all this was left behind within a few steps.

Monique Goldschmit, who is also president of the interest group ProVelo, has lived on Rue Pierre Notting for two years. "Now everything is as I had imagined it, " she says with a satisfied look on her face. "In the beginning there were many discussions: the bike racks were missing, the garages for the bikes weren't finished, the bike path didn't go all the way up to the neighbourhood, you could drive your car right up to the door …" This also means that when it comes to shopping, when a delivery is due or when someone comes to visit, the cars now have to stay outside. "These two poles, " Goldschmit begins, pointing to the entrance to the neighbourhood that leads across Avenue Pasteur, "came down and can now only be taken down with a matching key. In the beginning, there were people who unscrewed them to drive in here." If someone is expecting a larger delivery, she points out, they can ask to have it brought right up to the door. "The post office delivery people can drive in between the poles with their little electric mobiles. Food delivery people are on their scooters, and they're also small enough to get in, but it's not dramatic."

The little car-free neighbourhood

In the same way, no one in the Verger Ermesinde gets a parking permit, a 'vignette', which is actually allowed to all residents in the main city neighbourhoods. Either the car has to be parked on the street and drivers are obliged to feed the parking machine from 8 am to 6 pm, or they have to pay a parking fee. "There are also people with a car who live here, but still wanted to live in a neighbourhood without any cars. Then there are some who have a car and have now bought a cargo bike (bike which can be used to transport loads or people, ed.) and take their children to school." Monique Goldschmit herself owns – among other bicycles – a cargo bike, but has not had a car for years. "I have Carloh, " she says and laughs. Carloh is a car-sharing system with 23 stations and 46 vehicles in the capital. "I always have a car when I need one." Goldschmit shapes her transport options from a mix of everything – bike, Carloh, public transport. "I cycle from here to the tram or to Knuedler car park in the capital and change my means of transport."

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