The 'Copenhagen Plan' set the Flemish government a target of over 1,000 kilometres of additional cycle paths and wanted to financially support local governments with a €157 million subsidy pot. However, it underestimated local governments' ambitions for the plan and the budget was greatly exceeded, reported Gazet van Antwerpen.
In 2021, the Flemish government set the 1,000 km target and engaged with local governments to offer 50% additional funding for schemes to extend cycle lanes and 100% additional funding for the most ambitious projects. Their offer saw a wave of project submissions, meaning that there will be no difficulty in reaching the 1,000km target.
"Either way, there will be 1,000 kilometres of new cycle paths," said Flemish minister for Home Affairs Bart Somers.
2,017 kilometres of cycling infrastructure
Initially, Flanders had made €150 million available for the plan but the eagerness of cities and municipalities saw an additional €7 million added to the budget. Some projects have been implemented while others will start being realised within the coming months and years.
In total, the projects submitted see as many as 2,017 kilometres of new cycle paths in the future of Flanders, twice as many as initially aimed for. In the province of Antwerp alone, plans for an additional 400 kilometres of cycle paths have been requested.
"Our local governments prove once again that they get things moving," stated Somers proudly. "If tomorrow more people choose cycling instead of driving, it will be thanks to them."
The budget from the Flemish government added to the efforts of local governments brings the total investment up to €412 million in cycling paths and cycling motorways. "This puts Flanders on the map as a cycling region."
- Flemish cities and towns invest more than ever in cycling
- Brussels looks to Copenhagen for sustainable transition inspiration
"The bicycle is a fully-fledged alternative to car traffic," Flemish Minister for Mobility Lydia Peeters stated. "Based on that conviction, we and Flanders are investing massively in bicycle highways." These highways will allow cyclists to reach their destinations quickly and safely without major interruptions and conflicts, according to the minister. Peeters also stated that these highways often get people to their destinations faster than a car.
"In addition, we also continue to invest in safe and comfortable cycling infrastructure along regional roads and waterways: at least €300 million per year during this legislature."