Ten years after Flanders created legislation to ensure streets that prioritize bicycles, two thirds of the region's municipalities (198 out of 300) now have at least one cycle street, where bicycles are prioritised over other vehicles, according to Flanders Minister for Mobility, Lydia Peeters (Open VLD).
In Ghent, the first cycle street in 2011 aimed to create more space and visibility for bicycles in local traffic by forbidding drivers from overtaking cyclists as well as limiting speed to 30 km/h.
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11 years later, Flanders now has 619 kilometers of cycle streets according to Fietsberaad Vlaanderen (Flemish center of expertise for cycling), which bases is data from OpenStreetMap.
In contrast, Brussels only has 27 kilometers of cycle streets and Wallonia 23 kilometers. The most cycle friendly towns are Leuven in first place with nearly 30 kilometers of cycle streets, followed by Mechelen (25 kilometers) and Deinze (19 kilometers).
The approach "increases the safety of cyclists, which stimulates the use of the bicycle to get to work, school or the store," said Peeters.
People are increasingly opting for cycling as a method of green transport that also provides free exercise. While Flanders has successfully rolled out many kilometers of cycling infrastructure, Flemish cycling association Fietsersbond and its French-speaking counterpart GRACQ say that for Brussels more needs to be done to reduce car traffic and the pressure it brings to cyclists.