Brussels is continuing to see an increase in the number of cyclists in the city. In the first two months of 2022, the number of cyclists in the Belgian capital has increased significantly compared to 2021: the growth in January and February 2022 was 25% and 32%, respectively, according to Brussels Mobility. The growth is being driven by dedicated active travel planning, which is continuing to be expanded.
Bike traffic has significantly increased during the weekday rush hour, and also in the evening and at night, especially at weekends. This is partially a result of the relaxation of health measures, which is seeing more people go out to restaurants and bars and using their bicycles to do so.
This builds on an ongoing effort across the capital to encourage active travel, which began even before the pandemic. Bike for Brussels, launched in 2017, aimed to create a ‘bike culture’ through a range of campaigns. Since 2020, like many cities across the globe, Brussels enhanced its (temporary and permanent) cycling infrastructure and rolled out a range of initiatives to encourage bike travel, including additional cycle lanes, repair centres and car free neighbourhoods.
In 2021, Brussels announced its intention to go even further, aiming to push cycling to 10% of total journeys by 2030. This is one of the objectives of 'Good Move', the region’s mobility plan, which won the European Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in 2020.
“Cycling is good for your health in several ways: it reduces traffic jams and therefore stress, and it improves air quality,” Elke van den Brandt, Brussels Minister for Mobility, told Brussels Times. This echoes her comments at POLIS Network’s recent political group summit in Paris, where, along with leaders from cities across Europe, van den Brandt reiterated Brussels’ commitment to reallocating space towards active travel.
Brussels is emphasising the health aspects of cycling to encourage further uptake, with Brussels Mobility launching a campaign targeting the over-40s who are more likely to use their cars for short journeys. To kick off the campaign, an ‘Open Air Spinning’ event will be organised on 8 May in the city centre, offering fitness exercises on three emblematic cycle paths of the capital.
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This article originally appeared on Brussels Times, on 19 April 2022.