Flanders updates bicycle 'infrastructure handbook' for wider paths and more space

Flanders updates bicycle 'infrastructure handbook' for wider paths and more space
Credit: Belga

As the popularity of cycling, as well as the varying types of bicycles used by people to travel around in Flanders, are increasing, the region is looking to improve the relevant infrastructure to accommodate more vehicles.

The so-called "Vademecum Fietsvoorzieningen," which bundles the design guidelines for cycling infrastructure that can be used by anyone creating new public works or updating existing spaces for cyclists, has been thoroughly updated by the Flemish government.

"It includes guidelines for the choice of surface, the width of the cycle path, the construction of cycle streets and the accessibility and dimensions of bicycle parking facilities," Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters said.

More bikes, and different types of users

People in Flanders are increasingly using bicycles for longer distances than a few years ago: Bicycle use rose from 12.8% of journeys in 2013 to 14.2% in 2020, and the proportion of commuting that is done by bicycle increased from 12.5% to 16.9% in the same period.

"More room for the bicycle is, therefore, a necessity, and the new guidelines respond to this," Peeters stated, referring to the fact that the handbook will recommend wider cycle paths (two metres for a one-way cycle path and three metres for a two-way cycle path), as well as more waiting room for bicycle traffic at intersections.

Traditional bicycles are also increasingly being joined by other types of soft mobility options, from electric bicycles to cargo bikes and mobility scooters, and e-scooters, vehicles that vary more and more in size and speed, further driving the need for more space and improved infrastructure.

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The handbook is considered a non-binding recommendation for anyone designing cycle paths, such as road authorities, engineering consultants and contractors working on the construction or improvement of cycling infrastructure.

"The intention is to take these recommendations to heart in new designs in order to build 'future-proof' cycle paths, taking into account the various elements of the entire cycling family," Peeters said.

She added that the document will be "regularly updated on the basis of new insights."

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