Bruges is ambitious. Although it is already an established cycling city with a high modal share of 42%, it aspires to become Belgium’s leading cycling city. To achieve this, it wants to create an even more comprehensive cycling network, and its involvement in CIVITAS Handshake is helping it do so.
Through the project’s immersive study activities, Bruges is interacting with international experts and leading cycling cities. As part of this, a delegation comprising 20 such figures travelled to Belgium in mid-January for a two-day symposium to advise the city on creating the interconnected cycling network it so desires. The city’s recently conceived FR30 bicycle ring road will form the backbone of this, but a recent study into Bruges’s traffic flows made clear that this alone will not suffice.
What is required then? A series of workshops and group activities shed light on possible answers. One of the main debates centred around whether Bruges wants its network to focus on the concept of “flow”, which prioritises fluidity and speed, or “places“, which emphasises shared urban life and human interaction. As Bruges‘s iconic old town is full of tourists and residents and its surrounding canals serve as both radial routes and places of interest, the city has a delicate balance to strike. After the two days, the city had determined the core aim of its network: less speed and more city. The concept underpinning this is a cycling network conceived as if it were made of lace. The lace metaphor reflects traffic patterns uncovered by the recent traffic flow study; what starts as a gentle flow in local streets becomes heavier as users reach main cycling corridors. The study has served as the basis for the potential ring road route and prompted Bruges to develop its cycling network vision. Once complete, it should integrate safe crossing points over the R30 (the main ring road for cars) and connect with a planned cycle superhighway.
Bruges is currently seeking to build support for its plans via quick wins. These and other ideas will be compiled in a brochure for presentation to the city council in summer 2020. Beyond this, the local authority is focusing on its cycling network study and using its results to formulate a strategic vision for cycling and sustainable mobility work. Keep up with the latest in Bruges on its dedicated CIVITAS Handshake page.