Brussels Green Initiatives - Beautiful biking

Article published on May 26, 2008
Article published on May 26, 2008
by Roel Hoenders Only two weeks after the car free Sunday changed downtown Brussels into a pedestrian heaven, another celebration focusing on alternative transport took place on 18 May. This time not only the city centre, but the wider Brussels Region was the decor of a biker’s paradise (a.k.a Bicycity).

From different places in Belgium, at different distances from Brussels, people could get on their bikes and cycle in the direction of Brussels. And this not by means of finding your way on the dangerous outside of the road, no, right in the middle of some of the major highways heading towards Brussels and by means of a full police escort. Unfortunately, during this second edition of Bicycity only 5.000 cyclists took part while last year there were around 10.000 enthusiasts.

The main goal of this event is the promotion of cycling in the city and to reach out to those who are not familiar with cycling. Yet, the question remains whether such initiatives will really change the setting for bikers in Brusssels. The Rue de la Loi biker’s lane is the showpiece of biker friendly infrastructure in Europe’s capital (although this bikers lane is often occupied by pedestrians who cannot see the difference between the grey (pedestrian) and red (cycling) part of the sidewalk), however it seems that during the last five years not many additional dedicated infrastructure for bikers was created.

A lot of public money went to the Cyclocity project, but reserved lanes for bikes remain rare. You can still not cycle straight into the city centre when coming from the Rue de la Loi lane. First of all, the right side of the lower part of Rue de la Loi (in front of the Belgian Parliament) is often blocked by parked cars of Belgian MPs which leads to obligatory manoeuvring and mingling with the numerous cars passing by. Then after the crossing with the Rue Royal and descending towards Gare Centrale, there is nothing left of the wonderful bike lane which starts at Rond Point Schuman.

In fact it seems that car free Sunday or the Bikers day are the only suitable days in Brussels when you can use the bike. Only those days you can safely cycle around, because in fact only then you have the luxury of having a police escort or a prohibition on car use. The rest of the year cycling remains at your own risk.

Roel Hoenders