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Brussels steps up fight against bicycle theft with extra funding for secure parking

A bicycle box with parking places for bicycles in Brussels (BELGA).
10:10 07/10/2020

Brussels municipalities will receive €500,000 in additional funding to install more bicycle parking facilities around the city, including new secure bicycle boxes. The additional grants are part of the capital’s action plan against bicycle theft that started in 2016.

The number of cyclists in Brussels is already on the rise, but unfortunately so is the number of bicycle thefts. Between 2016 and 2019, there was a 27% increase in the number of reported thefts. Research shows that one in three cyclists who have their bikes stolen never get them back, proving the importance of theft prevention.

The 2016 action plan included digitising the theft reporting procedure which may have led to an increase in the number of bicycle thefts registered, as incidents can be more easily reported by the general public.

The bike registration platform mybike.brussels has also proved to be a success when it comes to returning stolen bicycles. More than 15,000 bicycles have been registered since its launch in March. About 20% of the stolen bikes that had a registration sticker were recovered, while only 4% of unregistered bikes were detected.

In June, an evaluation on the action plan was submitted to the Bicycle Theft Task Force, consisting of the cyclists' associations Pro Velo and Cyclo, the Brussels police zones and municipalities, bicycle dealers, the public prosecutor's office and Brussels Prevention and Safety. In addition to the positive steps made by the bicycle registration platform, a clear gap in the plan emerged: the shortage of safe bicycle parking.

An increasing number of Brussels residents need secure bicycle parking spaces. Although supply has increased from 2,000 secure places to 2,660 since the corona crisis hit, the waiting list has also grown from 4,000 to 6,700.

The government of the Brussels-Capital Region has therefore decided to free up €500,000 in grants for municipalities to increase this offer of secure places. This funding should see extra bicycle boxes installed around the region, but municipalities can also choose to use the subsidies for additional bicycle parking places and designated areas in neighbourhood car parks.

Parking.brussels is also renting places from private individuals that they can transform into bicycle parking. In this way, the parking agency is working towards relieving the pressure on public areas. “For the installation of additional bicycle boxes, a parking space usually has to be sacrificed,” a spokesperson for parking.brussels said in a statement. “That's why parking.brussels is proactively working on the provision of neighbourhood parking spaces in vacant buildings.”

For €5 per month, cyclists can use the secure bike boxes or bicycle parking spaces. Two of the capital’s 19 municipalities - Woluwé-Saint-Lambert and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode - have not agreed to have their bike boxes and parking managed by parking.brussels and will therefore set their own prices for subscriptions. "Why should we give that away when we can perfectly manage it ourselves?" said Saint-Josse mayor Emir Kir, who also denied that subscriptions to bicycle boxes in both his and Woluwé-Saint-Lambert mayor Olivier Maingain’s municipalities would be more expensive.

Written by Nick Amies