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Belgians increasingly choose public transit and bikes over cars, especially young people

16:14 28/07/2022

In the first half of 2022, Belgians drove almost a quarter (23%) less kilometres by car than they did in 2019. That’s before the coronavirus pandemic had an effect on traffic levels, according to data from the Belgian traffic institute Vias, report local media. 

People between the ages of 17 and 34 were especially keen to leave the car at home, with their share of kilometres travelled by car dropping from 55% in 2019 to 45% in 2022 so far. 

Overall, the number of kilometres travelled by car has dropped from 57% in 2019 to 52% in 2022.

Making up the difference are increased use of transport by public transit and by bicycle, indicating a shift in commuter choices as greener options are preferred.

Public transit use fell sharply during the pandemic and its related lockdowns, accounting for just 8% of kilometres travelled in 2021, but the usage rate is rebounding. In the first six months of 2022, nearly 11% of total kilometres travelled were by public transport, almost as much as before the pandemic (12% in 2019).

Bicycle use is also on the rise, electric bikes in particular. In 2017, only 3% of survey respondents said they used an electric bicycle, compared to 5% in 2019 and 7% in the first half of 2022. 

The e-bike remains most popular among people over the age of 55 and in Flanders. Almost as many kilometres are covered by an electric bike as by a regular bike.

During the first half of 2022, the average Belgian travelled a total of 33 kilometres a day, which includes all travel – such as errands and social calls – not just work commutes.

That represents an increase over last year (27 km) but almost 20% less than in 2019 (40 km), before the pandemic.



Written by Helen Lyons