Pedal power prevails at Critical Mass Luxembourg
Cyclists on old and new bikes, tandems and recumbents, ride three to four people abreast, sounding their bells and chatting to one another as they pedal across Luxembourg's Red Bridge. No, this is not some utopian future dreamed up by the Ville de Luxembourg, but a reality which takes place once a month as part of Luxembourg's Critical Mass movement.
“The aim is to promote urban cycling and to show that cyclists have rights on the road,” explained the Luxembourg group's promoter Tatiana Retunskaia.
Safety in numbers
A keen cyclist herself, Tatiana knows only too well the problems cyclists encounter with other road users, particularly car drivers, who often overlook bikes. Yet, Tatiana stresses that cycling in Luxembourg is considerably safer than in some cities.
Convincing potential cyclists this is the case is no easy feat, however, and so only the hardiest and most determined riders use pedal power. Subsequently, there are fewer cyclists using the road, making motorists more likely to overlook them.
Critical Mass meetings, therefore, are more than just a monthly fun jaunt for cyclists around the city since they serve to remind motorists to be more careful while empowering cyclists to get on their bikes more often. As Tatiana explained: “When people cycle in a group they feel safer.”
Critical Mass Luxembourg is not a new concept and was borne out of the first event in 1992 in San Francisco known as the Commute Clot.
The movement's roots are thought to have been inspired by the bike tours organised in Stockholm, Sweden in the early 1970s.
Today informal Critical Mass bike rides are organised on the last Friday of every month in more than 300 cities around the world.
In recent years the global movement has been associated with political protests and, in some cases, there has been criticism where cyclists have obstructed traffic or refused to obey traffic laws.
Know your road rights
The Luxembourg Critical Mass bike ride however is, as you might expect from a country like the Grand Duchy, a very well-behaved affair. Participants may make a lot of noise but a strong emphasis is placed on safety and awareness-raising and leaflets on cyclists' rights in Luxembourg are regularly distributed.
“To feel safe on the road I recommend that everyone wears a helmet and learns their rights. When you know what you can and cannot do on the road, you feel more confident when a driving is telling you to move out of the way,” said Tatiana.
The next Luxembourg Critical Mass bike ride meets on September 27 at Place de la Constitutions from 6.30pm. The route is determined on the day.
To find out more, visit the Luxembourg Critical Mass Facebook page