Just days after it was announced that the rail authority SNCB would stop carrying non-folding bicycles during rush hours, the measure has been dropped on the orders of federal mobility minister François Bellot (pictured). The proposed measure, which had not yet come into force, concerned ordinary bicycles on trains, which the SNCB claimed take up passenger space at times when space is most needed by passengers. They also present a danger of accidents, although the authority did not offer any statistics to support that view.
The measure would not have affected the increasingly popular folding bikes. Owners of ordinary bikes were advised to use cycle parking facilities at stations. However cyclists’ organisations pointed out that arrival at one’s rail destination was not necessarily the end of one’s journey.
Speaking during question time in the federal parliament, Bellot said he could not approve a measure being applied across the network in response to what must be a very limited problem. He also criticised the SNCB for presenting the new rule as a fait accompli when his department had not been consulted or even informed. Bellot himself only found out about the proposed measure via the media, he told members.
He called on the SNCB to carry out a thorough analysis of which lines are particularly affected by the problem of bikes, and said measures – if any – would only be taken following consultation with organisations representing cyclists and commuters in general.
It is already forbidden to load or unload bicycles at peak times in busy stations like Brussels Central. The SNCB wanted to apply that measure to the entire network.