Transport, Telecommmunications and Energy

Debate on road safety for cyclists and pedestrians, organised by the Ministry for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure and the European Transport Safety Council

On 21 September 2015, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg's Ministry for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure held a debate on road safety as part of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The debate focused on measures to be taken to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

Chaired by Jeannot Mersch, President of the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims, the debate commenced with a presentation by François Bausch, Minister for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, on Luxembourg's commitment to road safety. The Minister said that making the roads safe was a priority, and that the emphasis should be placed on prevention and educating drivers, particularly young drivers.

The policies put in place in Spain and the Netherlands to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists were presented by Alvaro Gomez from Spain's Directorate General for Traffic, and by Henk Stipdonk from the Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands.

Participants in the debate gave their reactions to the Spanish and Dutch experiences, and their main recommendations for improving the safety of pedestrians and cyclists in Luxembourg.

It is a fact that fear of accidents is the main obstacle to bicycle usage. This is also true for walking: safety is often given as a reason for taking children or older people by car on journeys that could be made on foot.

The main risks run by pedestrians and cyclists are caused by various factors: primarily, driver behaviour (excessive speed and drink-driving); inappropriate infrastructure (lack of facilities for pedestrians such as pavements, pedestrian crossings, etc.); and lack of appropriate lighting (many accidents leading to the injury or death of pedestrians or cyclists happen at night or in poor lighting conditions). Another cause of accidents is when road users are distracted because they are using portable electronic devices (texting, using the Internet, etc.).

In order to combat these dangers, participants called for more stringent requirements to be applied, particularly for lighting, visibility and signposting of crossings for pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, the legislature should restrict speed to 30 km/hour around schools and put traffic-calming measures in place.

Road safety education and awareness-raising can only produce satisfactory results if they are based on a solid enforcement system, and this is not the case. Unfortunately, breaking the law when driving is still seen as acceptable, and enforcement only takes place randomly.

Everyone agreed that in addition to frequency, two other factors give enforcement actions educational and deterrent force: the speed of the sanction and the certainty that enforcement will take place. Installation of automatic speed cameras is an absolutely essential step, although the participants were convinced that the planned number of 20 fixed and 6 mobile speed cameras was wholly inadequate. Police checks must also be put in place, and must be carried out more regularly and strategically.

Closing the debate, Georges Bach, MEP and member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, spoke of the European Parliament's commitment. In his view, the issue of road safety concerns us all, and requires constant work. He called, in particular, for the promotion of exchanges of knowledge and good practice among Member States, so that they could be taken into consideration to a greater extent in national, regional and local road safety plans.

Press release from the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure / European Transport Safety Council (ETSC)

  • Updated 21-09-2015