New cycling link improves Brussels connection to European bicycle network

New cycling link improves Brussels connection to European bicycle network
Credit: Brussels Mobility

On Monday, Brussels finished a new connection in its 'Canal Cyclostrade' infrastructure near the canal zone, which will serve to better connect the region to the European network of bicycle highways.

The latest link in the cycling network – constructed with the financial support of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – resulted in a thorough facelift for the Chaussée de Vilvorde in the north of the region, between the Buda Bridge and the cruise terminal on Rue de Meudon.

"The new connection is there, and it was completed today with the planting of the last tree. This link now properly connects Brussels with Vilvoorde," Inge Paemen, spokesperson for Brussels Mobility, told The Brussels Times.

The Brussels "Véloroute Canal" is part of a cycling highway that goes all the way from Antwerp (in Flanders) through the Brussels Capital-Region along the canal to Tubize (in Wallonia), explained Paemen. "Now, we have completed one of the important sections on Brussels territory."

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The separated bicycle path in the Chaussée de Vilvorde and the extra security for the road "show where we want to go with this city," said Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt; namely: more room for alternatives, greener, and absolute priority for traffic safety.

"It will be an important link in the canal zone, which will become a real gateway to Brussels for inhabitants and commuters from the Flemish periphery," she said in a press release.

"After all, this cycle path will make the connection with the three new bicycle and pedestrian bridges that were installed last year, and the three passerelles that will lead cyclists and pedestrians under the busiest intersections as from next year."

According to Paemen, it concerns the bridges at the three difficult and very busy intersections of Van Praet, De Trooz and Sainctelette near the city centre. "Flanders is working on its own part between Vilvoorde and Antwerp, and we in Brussels are working to go in the direction of Anderlecht and Halle. By working together and connecting various local cycle routes, we are creating one large bicycle highway."

New look for Brussels canal space

To make sure pedestrians and cyclists can use the routes safely, the speed limit for cars on the Chaussée de Vilvorde was lowered to 50 kph, and a lot of green areas were introduced.

For Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort, improving the quality of urban spaces around the canal is a major challenge for the region – especially given the size of the area – which has been ongoing for more than 20 years.

"The implementation of the Véloroute/Cyclostrade project, supported by Europe, cements this desire to have a positive impact on the canal zone by creating quality facilities that allow a new perception of the 'canal space'," said Vervoort.

Additionally, new lighting along the canal has been fitted that dims at night and switches on automatically when pedestrians or cyclists pass. Benches and rubbish bins were also installed. Within the project, exceptional attention was paid to greenery. First, the soil was enriched so that no less than 105 trees and 8,400 shrubs could be planted.

"The Véloroute project received €6.8 million in ERDF support, 50% of which was paid by the European authorities and 50% by the Brussels-Capital Region. The total cost of this project is €9.8 million," he added.

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