Another cyclist was shoved off their bicycle on a Brussels cycle path in Anderlecht – the same path that has seen a number of similar incidents.
The latest instance again raised questions about the safety of the cycling paths along the canal, reports Bruzz.
“Such incidents will continue to happen if the responsible policymakers do not intervene,” said Arne Smeets of the citizens’ collective Heroes for Zero, which advocates for traffic safety and better public space.
Belga-journalist Jean Van Driessche was pushed off his bicycle Saturday night, when he tried to overtake two pedestrians on the canal cycle path.
“The facts occurred in Anderlecht, near the Nijverheidskaai. There, the cycle path is wider and there is normally enough room for two pedestrians and one cyclist,” Jean Van Driessche wrote on Twitter. “On the bike I respect pedestrians by calling, on foot I respect cyclists.”
Une mauvaise nuit douloureuse ne m’a pas ôté d’un doute sur les circonstances d’une mauvaise chute à vélo samedi soir, à Bxl, le long du canal en dépassant deux piétons après coups de sonnette: celui d’avoir été projeté volontairement au sol.
— jean van driessche (@jeanvandriessch) January 16, 2022
“I saw that one of the two pedestrians heard me and warned the other,” said Van Driessche, adding that he has escaped this kind of accident several times before.
A similar incident took place at the Koolmijnenkaai in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek this summer, when a woman was pushed from her bicycle by a pedestrian because she tried to overtake him. She landed on her arm and sustained a broken elbow.
“We also raised the issue at the time, but nothing has changed since then,” said Smeets. “We are still waiting for Mayor Catherine Moureaux and Minister Elke Van den Brandt to take their responsibility and find a suitable solution.”
Not a new problem
The canal cycle paths have been a point of discussion before.
Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) said she’s tried to tackle the traffic-flow situation, but struggled to broker an agreement with the Molenbeek borough council.
“We would love to change the situation at the Koolmijnenkaai,” Van den Brandt said.
“Given the amount of cyclists and pedestrians on that axis, a better distribution of the public space there is needed. Unfortunately, we’re encountering a negative response from Molenbeek town council.”
An issue seen “everywhere in Brussels”
Smeets said the problem of pedestrians assaulting cyclists over shared space isn’t unique to a single neighbourhood.
“In Molenbeek the problems are the most acute, because the space there is the narrowest. But everywhere in Brussels, especially along the canal, there is a problem with shared space for pedestrians and cyclists. We very often see conflicts between both road users,” said Smeets.
He blames neither the cyclists nor the pedestrians, saying the fault lies with “the layout of the public space. In certain situations, it is acceptable that cyclists and pedestrians have to share the public space, but not along the canal. Too many cyclists and pedestrians pass by there.”
Minister Van den Brandt agreed, saying they’re trying to eliminate such situations by cooperating with municipalities, but Smeets isn’t optimistic about a solution in the near future.
“The conclusion always remains that it is very difficult to redistribute space. Politically, it is very difficult to take space away from the car, but such incidents will continue to happen if the responsible policymakers do not intervene.”