Cyclists aren’t as conspicuous in Brussels as they are in Gent or Antwerp. But things are changing fast. according to studies by Pro Velo the number of cyclists in Brussels has increased 4 fold between 1999 and 2010! Conditions and safety are getting better and better as more people join-in and city planning authorities make more and more space available for cyclists. As for the usual cliché that it is always raining in Brussels … Stéphane Smets from the GRACQ brushes them aside using data he has been collecting for several years: it turns out it rains on only 15% of his daily trips!
Two organisations are working to improve cycling conditions in Brussels: the GRACQ and Pro Velo. They work closely together in promoting cycling, making it easier and representing the cyclists’ interests at a local level. Both these associations are based at the Maison des Cyclistes, where you’ll find a basic shop with equipment, books and local maps.
Pro Velo helps local authorities, schools, companies and people see cycling as a sustainable, safe and fun means of transportation. They have a basic English website. Their activities revolve around:
Providing practical information on equipment types, safety tips ect … all of it is in French and Flemish.
Providing training for children and adult beginners. They will either work with schools or people. Their training for beginners (see page for registration details) will start again in April 2011, each session consists of 4 class on consecutive Saturday morning. Their A vélo Mesdames! program is mainly (but not exclusively) at groups of women of all origins who wish to learn or re-learn to cycle. Pro Vélo has been very active in the promotion and organisation of Vélobus: a system by which children can cycle to school in groups, supervised by adults and on predefined itineraries.
Vélotours are a fun and exciting way to discover Brussels. You can either join a public tour or sign up for a private group tour. Tours are open to the entire family and costs are 10€ for half day tours and 13€ for full day tours. It’s also possible to rent the bikes for an additional fee. Registration is required before Friday on the week you wish to join is can be done online by clicking on the desired tour on the planning page.
Long term or short-term bicycle rentals.
Anti theft etching can help you find your bike if it was stolen. You can have your bike engraved with a unique number on Wednesdays at the Maison des Cyclistes between 10am and 1.30pm and between 2pm and 5pm. Cost is 2€. Don’t forget your ID!
For companies, Pro Velo organises team building and training sessions for employees wanting to cycle to work safely.
Pro Velo also publishes some reports and studies on cycling in Brussels.
The GRACQ provides support to those who are, are wish to start, cycling as one of their main means of transportation. Their actions include:
Lobbying and representation of cyclists’ interests with local authorities. Local groups have been setup around town and allow you to contribute.
Raising awareness and providing practical information online, thru different campaigns and events.
Their Velo-trafic training sessions will help you feel safe and comfortable cycling around town. They will teach you how to position yourself in traffic, who to make shure you are seen by cars etc… Sessions are open to people above 14 years of age and cost around 10€ or cheaper if the family joins. They are conducted at the Parc du Cinquantenaire (close to the Merode metro station) one Saturday afternoon a month between march and november. Check out their schedule page for details. Trainings in English are available, see bottom of page for e-mail contact.
Points Vélo / Fietspunt
You’ll find these service and information centers at 4 train stations around Brussels: Gare du Midi, Gare du Nord, Gare du Luxembourg et Gare Centrale. These conveniently located social enterprise will maintain your bike, rent bicycles and provide information on cycling in Brussels. They also provide security for adjoining bike parkings.
PlaceOvelo is an informal group of cycling activists. They are best known for their role in organizing monthly Critical Masses. Their website also has a small database of user generated cycling routes in Brussels.