Ben Weyts, Flemish minister for mobility and public works, has approved spending of two million euros to convert the tow-path on the Brussels-Charleroi canal into a “cycle freeway” between Brussels and Halle. The tow-path will be extended to four metres in width, and the concrete surface replaced with asphalt, which is more comfortable for cyclists. The works are scheduled to start this summer, and end at the end of 2020.
The canal tow-path was found in 2018 to be one of the most popular paths used by cyclists in the Flemish periphery of Brussels, with a total of 245,220 trips that year. However the Brussels-Halle section is not complete: there are places where the cycle path is missing or impossible, such as where the path crosses a major road.
At the same time, the entire cycle freeway will be moved to the side to allow room for a planned widening of the canal itself to allow the passage of ships up to 1,350 tonnes.
Those problems will be tackled during the works. The first phase beginning in July involves the section between the locks at Lot and Ruisbroek; the second phase from the lock at Lot to the Waterloo Bridge; the third and fourth phases are due to start in the spring of 2020 and cover the section between Ruisbroek and Drie Fonteinenstraat in Drogenbos.
The majority of the costs will be shared by the Flemish waterways authority and the European Regional Development Fund, to the tune of 800,000 euros each. In addition, costs for lighting will come from the municipalities of Halle, Beersel, Drogenbos and Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, with the remainder coming as a grant from the province of Flemish Brabant.