Cyclists to be prioritised in new reform of Belgian traffic code

Cyclists to be prioritised in new reform of Belgian traffic code
The Federal Minister for Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo). Credit: Belga / Eric Lalmand

The Belgian Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) told Het Nieuwsblad on Wednesday that he plans to change the country’s traffic code “to give more space” to cyclists.

The current law does not authorise cycling groups of less than 15 to ride on regular roads, but only on biking paths. However, these rules have irked the rising frustrations of Flemish cyclists.

Last weekend, for example, it was reported by the local outlet Hageland Actueel that over 60 cyclists were fined by police for riding on the region’s roads. In response to the incident, Gilkinet promised that his upcoming reform of Belgium’s traffic code, which he claims has been in the works for months, will prioritise making room for “active road users”.

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The minister announced that groups as small as 10 will be allowed to ride on normal roads, while also redefining what cycling paths are deemed “passable”.

The current traffic code requires individual cyclists to always ride on cycling lanes unless they are in poor condition. Once Gilkinet’s reform comes into force, “it will not just be about potholes” but will also take into account “dead leaves or loose soil” on the path.

However, the road safety institute VIAS does not agree with a change to the definition. VIAs spokesperson Stef Willems stated that “this is only going to lead to more discussions in practice” about which lanes qualify as passable.

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