cycling infrastructure

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. 

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. 

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Cliquez sur l'image pour télécharger les différents sections