The city of Brussels has registered a record number of bicycle journeys for the year 2023. The Belgian capital has been playing catch-up in the cycling stakes compared to other Belgian cities, particularly in Flanders the north of the country. Long seen as a city dominated by cars and unfriendly to cyclists, Brussels has made huge efforts in recent years to change that perception.
The drop in car traffic in the city during the Covid-19 pandemic, the creation of hundreds of kilometres of new cycling lanes and the advent of affordable electronic bikes means more and more people have been encouraged to try commuting by bike. Mobility organisations in the city have launched campaigns to raise awareness of the health, well-being and travel-time benefits of hopping on a two-wheeled solution. New plans are also afoot to make bike parking safer and more convenient too. It seems the message is getting through.
10 million milestone
The number of cyclists on Brussels roads reached the 10 million milestone last week. This means the figure for the year has increased by at least 7% compared to 2022’s figures, according to new data from Brussels-Mobility. It’s an achievement that continues to build on a colossal leap forward last year, when the increase was 40%.
We can only be satisfied, our efforts to offer a cycling infrastructure to as many people as possible are bearing fruit.Inge Paemen, spokesperson Brussels-Mobility
The city measures cyclist numbers using bike meters in various locations. As people on bikes pass by, a number flashes up on a screen indicating how many two-wheeled transport options have been registered there that day. Though the methodology is slightly flawed by the fact that scooters also trigger the counter, as well as by the fact the meters register journeys (possibly by the same people, rather than separate users), Brussels-Mobility adjusts for those factors.
The busiest street for bikes is Rue de la Loi, with more than 1.6 million crossings. This would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Rue de la Loi is a major axis running through the centre and east of the city and the first section of the N3 towards Aachen. It is home to several notable European Union buildings. It has gone from being a congested multi-lane nightmare, where homemade guerilla signage used to frequently appear telling motorists their pollution was killing the city, to the most cycled road in Brussels with an offer of not one but two cycle lanes.
Quai des Charbonnages, along the city’s canal in Molenbeek, comes in second with more than 1.4 million journeys registered so far in 2023.