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Belgium in Brief: King of the Road

Credit: Erfgoedbank Oudergem/Jette

Have you ever wondered what’s up with Belgium and bicycles?

From businesspeople getting on their folding bikes after a metro journey to cycling tourist clubs blocking cars from passing by on Sundays, it seems as if Belgium is always cycling, everywhere.

And apparently, this is not a recent trend either.

Brussels, specifically, saw a tenfold increase in the number of bikes in the city between 1905 and 1935.

By 1940, there were five times as many bicycles in the former province of Brabant (which included Brussels) as there were cars in all of Belgium.

Long before people were thinking about the most eco-friendly way to get around, children made soapboxes, adults played cycleball (which is an actual sport, with official regulations, I was delighted to discover) and some guy nicknamed ‘Lange Jan’ posed majestically.

Do you have any old photos of special bikes in Belgium? Was your grandfather even more dapper than Lange Jan?

If you have anything to add, let @johnstonjules know. Or @maithechini, since she wrote it today.

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