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Cycling in Brussels up by whopping 64% in 2020

16:44 12/01/2021
2020 wasn’t all bad, as thousands of residents in the capital (re)discovered the joys of cycling

The number of trips made by bicycle in Brussels increased by 64% in 2020. Figures for the year were provided to Bruzz by Bruxelles Mobilité.

It’s no secret that the lockdown in the spring saw an unprecedented number of people in the capital taking to their bicycles for exercise but also to run errands. Even when measures relaxed, and people returned to work, the lack of traffic and concerns about public transport kept residents cycling.

While the annual increase in the number of trips made by bicycle in Brussels increased by 64%, peaks in May, June and September saw figures double. In total, some 3,700,000 cycles rides were calculated for 2020, whether for basic transport or for sport.

While cycling has increased in the capital over the last decade anyway, it’s usually about 13% a year. “This was a pivotal year for Brussels cyclists,” Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) told Bruzz.

‘Valuable alternative’

The minister pointed not only to the pandemic as a reason why people rode their bikes more often – or dusted them off after years of neglect – but also to new cycle paths that popped up throughout the year.

“Many people discovered for the first time that their bicycles offered a valuable alternative form of transportation,” she said. “My mission is clear – more investment in cycling infrastructure. Because what 2020 has shown us is that if you provide more cycle paths, the cyclists will follow.”

Cycling association ProVelo is more cautious in its optimism, noting that this trend might not last past the corona epidemic. “We need to get people out of their cars in Brussels, but the new cyclists are probably coming out of public transport,” Thomas Schoenmakers of ProVelo told Bruzz. “This is an unusual situation that is difficult to qualify.”

He hopes, however, that the increased traffic safety offered by the new Zone 30 regulation will help to get more drivers on their bicycles.

Photo ©Eric Lalmand/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw