On Friday September 24th, the Belgian Council of Ministers approved a federal action plan for the promotion of cycling 2021-2024. Named “Be Cyclist”, the plan is set of 52 measures aimed at making it easier for as many Belgians and residents of Belgium to choose a bicycle instead of a car.
‘Be Cyclist’ includes 52 measures designed to stimulate bicycle use in Belgium. “If more people cycle, it’s good for our economy, because the cost of traffic jams is sky-high. Cycling also has a positive impact on our climate,” said Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet. He is coordinating the plan, which extends to the competences of all federal ministers.
Cycling should be possible, accessible, safe and natural for everyoneGeorges Gilkinet, Minister of Mobility
The Belgian federal government’s ambition is to reduce our country’s CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030. Greening mobility is a crucial link to that end. But the levers available to the federal level to achieve a “modal shift” from the car to the bicycle are limited because everything concerning bicycle infrastructure falls under the competence of the regional governments.
The federal government does have certain room for maneuvering, and it wants to expand the bicycle infrastructure – for example, by building bicycle highways along railroads. Some smaller, notable initiatives include the establishment of a bicycle brigade with the aviation police and social projects aimed at stimulating the use of bicycles among asylum seekers in the Fedasil reception centers. When constructing new military quarters, attention will be paid to accessibility by bicycle.
I am delighted with the ambitious Be Cyclist plan in which all my colleagues, ministers and secretaries of state are mobilizingGeorges Gilkinet, Minister of Mobility
One of the central axes in the federal plan is the fight against bicycle theft. “If your bike is stolen, it’s a major setback,” said Gilkinet. The possibility of a central bicycle register is being investigated, which should simplify the fight against theft and put a stop to the resale of stolen bicycles. For the federal police, tackling bicycle theft is becoming a priority.
Yearly thefts reported (source: gilkinet.belgium.be)
- Antwerp: 4,634
- Brussels region: 4,391
- Ghent: 2,580
- Louvain: 1,639
In order to encourage the use of bicycles for commuting to work, it is being studied how the bicycle allowance can be improved and expanded; currently more than 570,000 individuals benefit from such program. Companies that take initiatives to make their commute more sustainable will be able to count on additional financial support. The federal government services are expected to set an example.
A ‘Federal Bicycle Commission’ will coordinate the cooperation with the regional authorities. The government will not release additional financial resources for the implementation of the plan, which must be budget-neutral. It runs from 2021 to 2024 and will be evaluated regularly, Gilkinet concluded.