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9 May 2009

Brussels by Bike

There are a thousand-and-one ways of using a bicycle in Brussels. Some use it for going to work. Others only on Sundays for a bit of healthy exercise. Night birds particularly like it for mitigating the lack of public transport after midnight. Many, alas, maintain that cycling in Brussels isn't practical. They bemoan the lack of bicycle facilities, the inclement weather or the capital's not very cyclist-friendly ups-and-downs. They're right and wrong at one and the same time. For bicycle facilities, it's clear that efforts need to be made, but people should also see the great deal that has already been done. For the weather, regular cyclists will tell you that, in the end, it doesn't rain all that often, and that the rain is really nasty for only a few days a year. As for the ups-and down, OK, so Brussels undulates a little, but nevertheless, it's not San Francisco! So, go ahead! Get out your bike, since it's waiting patiently for you in the garage. Spruce it up, and show it the world. If you still need to be convinced, read the following pages with care. You'll soon understand that, when all is said and done, the bicycle is welcome in Brussels. There's no reason! Cycling is fuddy-duddy. Too tiring. Suicidal. Cyclists are dangerous in traffic. There aren't enough bicycle facilities. When I park my bike, it gets stolen. In Belgium, it's always raining. Discover this clichés and the BrusselsLife.be answers. Some facilities As we've told you, the public authorities are not completely inactive with regard to encouraging cycling in Brussels. Here some facilities that have been introduced, either discreetly or with huge media fanfare. Cycle routes For several years, the Brussels-Capital Region has introduced a series of cycle routes in order to make cyclists' lives easier. It is a question of marked itineraries of several miles, organised as stars, from the downtown area to the suburbs. These routes follow either the main roads, which then comprise facilities reserved for cyclists, or quiet little streets with little traffic. In the end, there should be about twenty such cycle routes. CycloCity: these are bicycle stations for rental as required, which are for the time being only to be found in the Pentagon (Brussels-City commune). Easy, practical and inexpensive. You take a bicycle from one station, you ride it, and you return it to another station. There are twenty-three such CycloCity points in Brussels. The Stib or train Bike duo: the public transport authorities have accepted, in certain conditions, that passengers can take their bicycles on to the public transport system. Furthermore, the Region has had facilities for padlocking bicycles installed at each underground station. On the accesses of the stations, the Region is introducing many more bicycle facilities. The SNCB itself has recently launched a "Bicycle Point" at North Station. These are points where you can leave your bicycle under lock and key, get it repaired... Source: Matthieu Lethé & Frédéric Solvel

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