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Project lets Brussels residents rent a free cargo bike

CoolblueFietst/CoolblueVelo delivers packages by bike from its 5 stores in Belgium, in Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Zaventem and Hasselt. 80% off all small packages in these cities are already delivered by electric bakfiets. ©Coolblue

A new initiative aimed at curbing air pollution in Brussels will allow residents to try out a cargo bike or electric longtail bike for free for two weeks, starting with those living in Anderlecht in April.

Woluwe-Saint-Pierre will be the next municipality to join in May.

Cargo bikes, or “bakfiets,” are becoming increasingly popular in Belgium, especially for families with small children that need to be chauffeured around.

Commercial businesses like Coolblue also use them as a more environmentally friendly option for delivery. About 80% of small items from the electronics chain are delivered by cargobike now.

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“Unlike the big cities of the Netherlands or Denmark, Brussels does not yet have a cargo bike culture,” said Brussels Minister of Mobility Elke Van den Brandt. “Yet the potential is immense: the latest studies show that it is perfectly suited for 75% of private and family journeys.”

Convenience aside, using a cargo bike for trips to the grocery store or taking the kids to grandmother’s house will hopefully curb air pollution, which is a major issue in the Belgian capital affecting everything from health outcomes to the appearance of historical landmarks like the Sainte-Catherine de Bruxelles church, whose façade turned black from all the soot.

Last month, Brussels was ordered to install more air-quality measuring stations along its most polluted roadways within six months or face penalties, according to the ClientEarth non-profit association.

The cargo bike project is a three-year collaboration between Pro Vélo and Bruxelles Mobilité, which is part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times