cycling

7 reasons why Lyon is winning as a city for people by Kwinten Lambrecht

I recently went on a trip to Lyon. It's a true example of how a city can make its citizens happy. It has a holistic approach to city planning and designing public space. Lyon has the same size as Brussels, around the same numbers of inhabitants (1.3 million) and counts even 40 more municipalities than Brussels does. Nothing is impossible, Brussels!
From what I have seen Lyon is a safe, clean and vibrant place to live, eat, drink and work in. Take good care of your people, and people will take care of your city.

The cycling infrastructure

More than 650 km of safe cycle lanes, bridges and connections.

More than 650 km of safe cycle lanes, bridges and connections.

Les quais

The quays next to the river Saône are an amazing place to hang out, sport, bicycle, walk. That's how you embrace water in your city!

The quays next to the river Saône are an amazing place to hang out, sport, bicycle, walk. That's how you embrace water in your city!

The cycling tunnel

This tunnel, only for cyclists, pedestrians and electric buses connects two parts of the city. Photo via  Almost Landing .

This tunnel, only for cyclists, pedestrians and electric buses connects two parts of the city. Photo via Almost Landing.

Green spaces

Everywhere you go you can find green pavements, small parks, flowers. Green spaces help to support new ecosystems and to cool down cities.

Everywhere you go you can find green pavements, small parks, flowers. Green spaces help to support new ecosystems and to cool down cities.

The open air swimming pool

You may not be able to swim in the river, but Lyon does have amazing open air swimming facilities; something Brussels is craving for.

You may not be able to swim in the river, but Lyon does have amazing open air swimming facilities; something Brussels is craving for.

Squares

This photo is taken in Villeurbane; Lyon has many squares with sports facilities, skate parks, ...

This photo is taken in Villeurbane; Lyon has many squares with sports facilities, skate parks, ...

There's a public zoo!

In the massive Parc de la Tête d'Or you can find a magnificent botanical garden and.. a zoo! Free of charge!

In the massive Parc de la Tête d'Or you can find a magnificent botanical garden and.. a zoo! Free of charge!

Cher Alain by Kwinten Lambrecht

Alain Courtois_Letter_Brief_Lettre.png

Cher Alain, dear Alain,

Look at you, standing bravely on a piece of no man's land between diesel fumes. Well done, you made it to the papers with a nice quote announcing that you would block the construction of cycle lanes on the dangerous Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, even if you had to block it physically.

I will be honest with you, cher Alain, I've had it with politicians of your generation. You are from the same angst generation as the ‘Brexiteers’ and Trump voters among us: conservative, anti-change and changing your opinion whenever it serves your personal interests. You are using fear as an argument to counter progress. 

You are a sports fan, given your previous role at the Belgian Football Association, but you don't want people to use the bike, exercise and stay healthy? You want, and I quote, 'traffic fluidity' in Brussels? You are the Alderman for sports, but you don't want people to move around actively? What is your agenda, Alain? 

I see, you are the Alderman of 'Seniors' too, perhaps they are more receptive to your messages like 'invasion of the bicycle' and 'bullying cars'? We all noticed on your infamous Facebook page that your Senior fans were cheering for you, and your tough language: 'Send that Flamand back to where he belongs!', 'Is he still sick?', 'Well done Alain!'. You are scoring goals for your voters, Alain, well done.

Cher Alain, let's try to use a different argument. What is your view on the impact of car use in our, your city? What about the lungs of your, our children and grandchildren? Do they deserve brown fluids in their lungs or traffic fluidity? Many cities around us, not far away even, are approaching public space, mobility and city life in a completely different way nowadays. Academics, visionary Mayors, researchers, citizens all over the world are striving for a better city. Why? Because we love living in cities, not driving. Thanks to politicians like you Brussels will never be able to lead by example on these matters, but will have to follow with years of backlog.

Cher Alain, how is still possible that you and your 18 other colleagues in other Brussels' municipalities can block or destroy holistic plans, based on arguments such as "that street should be 30cm wider, so we cannot construct cycle lanes"? Your generation of inward-looking politicians will make our generation, which is not afraid of change, lag behind for years to come. The consequences of your short-term 'status quo' policy will have a disastrous impact on us, citizens, and your, yes Alain, your city.

 

The missing cycling links of Brussels by Kwinten Lambrecht

Recently Strava has made available heatmaps of cycling and running behaviour in cities. The maps 'only' include data from Strava users but when we look at the map we can immediately have an overview of where people cycle and where not. In the picture below we are only looking at the centre of Brussels but it's clear that there are many missing links.

The inner ring around South station is not used frequently according to data, while the inner ring near Rogier/Botanique is! Recently separated bike lanes were built in this area, which makes it more safe for cyclists to ride there. On the Boulevard du Midi and Abattoir cyclists have to share the road , surrounded by white lanes. But often cars park on the cycle lanes and speed limits are ignored massively. 

People use the separated cycling lanes on Rue de la Loi a lot while Belliard, which has not even proper pavements, is almost not frequented.

Other examples include the Rue Blaes and rue Haute, and again a lack of infrastructure could be the reason for less cycling. Or Rue Laeken, which could be the perfect connector between Brussels South and North. 

One can hope that policy makers will analyse these data to connect the missing links and to work together with each other. Since Brussels has 19 different municipalities it's not obvious that municipalities will solve the missing links by cooperating and communicating with one another.

The very light green lanes should become red hot heat in the coming years. That's what we expect from politicians with a 'vision hero'.

Driving costs, cycling benefits by Kwinten Lambrecht

Cool visual right? We all know that cycling contributes to a healthy life, but also to a more wealthy society. Researchers have just published a new study called 'Transport transitions in Copenhagen: Comparing the cost of cars and bicycles', which found that cars resulted in way more costs than benefits for individuals and society.

The cost of cars

  1. Climate change: 0.005 €/km none for cycling
  2. Noise pollution: 0.007 €/km none for cycling, does that ring a bell? :-)
  3. Congestion (cost of delays): 0.62 €/km none for cycling

The cost of bicycles

  1. Accident costs: 0.106 €/km (more exposed and vulnerable to injury), 0.022 €/km for cars
  2. Time costs: 0.67 €/km, while 0.26 €/km for cars. But it's relaxing to be on a bike!

The biggest benefit that researchers found was the increased life expectancy and fewer sick days, worth € 0.741 per cycled kilometre. 
After calculating all the costs and benefits of both transport means, researchers concluded that the combined individual and societal costs of driving a car were 0.50 €/km compared to 0.08 €/km for cycling. When only considering the costs and benefits for society, rather than the individual, one kilometre by car costs €0.15, whereas society earns €0.16 for every kilometre cycled.

Investing in a cycling culture costs money, but also courage from non-visionary politicians. These economic and societal arguments are a fantastic basis to further expand cycling cities, but also to get rid off our car-centred thinking. Cars are just not that good for you. 

Genre de vie: The happiness of urban life is being rediscovered by Kwinten Lambrecht

Genre de Vie is a documentary film about bicycles, cities and personal awareness. It looks at desired space and our own impact to the process of it. The film documents urban life empowered by the simplicity of the bicycle.

Today we are facing environmental issues more than ever. While architects, urban designers, policymakers and thinkers discuss the future of our cities, more and more people become aware of their own impact and use of space. Genre de Vie uses the bicycle to explore personal awareness and finds out how cycling contributes to the future livability of cities.

What expats think of cycling in Brussels by Kwinten Lambrecht

Belgians love cycling. Since Eddy Merckx we've had more cycling champions than we’ve played World Cup football games. Needless to say, cycling is a part of Belgian DNA. And although everybody loves cycling as a sport, it still hasn't become a habit to use a bike instead of a car to bridge short distances. That's one of the reasons why a lot of cities in Belgium lack decent cycling infrastructure and thus cycling culture.

As an experienced cyclist in Brussels I have fallen victim to insults and aggressive behaviour quite a lot now. Moreover it’s extremely frustrating that roads, even big avenues, lack sufficient and safe cycle lanes. In most cases you have to share the road with cars on so-called cycle lanes, which are often driven or parked on. The suggestion marks (painted bicycles on the road) are even worse and have no legal force. They just warn drivers that cyclist 'might ride here too'.

Brussels is rich in its diversity, and among different cultures living here there's also a well-represented (EU) expat community living and breathing the city. I know that a lot of my friends think similarly about the current, often dangerous situations on the road.

But what's the opinion of expats regarding cycling in Brussels? To determine this I launched an online mini-survey which focused on bicycle safety, cycling lanes, the bike-sharing system Villo! and the possible solutions to the problem.

In total 202 people responded to the survey in a period of nearly three weeks (24 January - 12 February). Promotion was principally done via Twitter. The results below are quite striking!

Click on the infographic in order to download separate visuals

Click on the infographic in order to download separate visuals

I want to thank graphic designer Bert Sap for designing this infographic. 

Cliquez sur l'image pour télécharger les différents sections

Cliquez sur l'image pour télécharger les différents sections

Latest report on cycling injuries in Brussels by Kwinten Lambrecht

The latest report on cycling injuries has just been published by the Belgian Institute for Road Safety (picked up on it via Brusselnieuws). Not surprising, the amount of injured cyclists is increasing year by year. Also the amount of deadly traffic accidents (involving cars or pedestrians) has increased from 45 to 58 victims.

The chart below shows that the number of injuries has increased from only 80 reported injuries to approximately 460 in 2013 (+500%). The only reason our Secretary of State for Mobility, Melchior Watheletet Junior, could possibly think of was the exponential growth of cyclists on our roads. Well, well...

cycling injuries

Source: BIVV