The opinions about the Brussels’ level of bicycle-friendliness vary a lot. Despite many recent improvements, such as designated bicycle lanes and the introduction of the Villo network in 2009, the city is not very bicycle friendly compared to other European cities. In a classic short video that went viral in Brussels it is visually explained what is wrong with this city when it comes to cycling.
Also, many of us have learned the hard way that what goes down, must go up. I’m talking about the “hilliness” of the city of course. Downhill is great, but plodding yourself up is less fun, especially after a day of work or a night in the bar. No wonder that the Villo-stations in the higher areas of town are often empty by the end of the morning and it’s often difficult to find an open spot to park your bike once you’ve enjoyed the positive side of gravity on two wheels.
Yet, our city has much to offer when it comes to enjoying a bicycle ride. There are plenty of attractive and safe routes through the various neighbourhoods in the capital district, whereas the options outside the main ring road are virtually endless. No wonder that Belgium is such a bicycle-loving nation and has boasted some of the most successful athletes in this discipline, including 5-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx. Also Cyclocross is enormously popular in Belgium. This discipline requires cyclists to drive mainly over unpaved terrain, walk uphill, jump over barriers, while it requires a fire hose to clean up again afterwards. Through the years, several Belgians have climbed the top spot of the victory platform, including Sven Nys who recently won the World Championship.
For most expats, cycling should first and foremost be a pleasant experience. Luckily there are many websites where you can find tons of information about cycling tours, competitions, bicycle (repair) shops and much more. Here are a few (some are only in Dutch or French):
This trilingual website presents all the work and activities of Provelo. Its objective is to support (potential) cyclists, to teach people to cycle (again), to spread a positive image of the bicycle and to support pro-bicycle public policy.
De Fietsersbond (NL) & Gracq – Les cyclists quotidian (FR)
Both organizations have more or less the same objective, namely to stimulate the bicycle as a means of transportation.
Bruxelles Mobilité (FR/NL)
This bi-lingual website covers all kinds of mobility issues, including those for cyclists. It offers handy maps with cycling tracks through the city, routes for recreational cycling, and many links to cycling websites.
CyCLO vzw is a social economy enterprise that promotes cycling in Brussels through bike mechanics, recycling, cycling culture and innovation.
This nonprofit organization’s mission is to get more people cycling in Brussels. It offers various workshops and cycling tours.
On this website you will find much information and brochures about cycling in the Walloon region.
Probably this is already enough information to get you going, but for more tips, please read next week’s blog item with some great tips on cycling routes!