Think of urban cycling on the Continent, and the first city that springs to mind is likely to be Copenhagen or Amsterdam; cities where large proportions of the population use bicycles to undertake everyday journeys, creating a streetscape far removed from Britain’s car choked city centres. But a new 20-minute film from Belgium, Brussels Express, shows that Britain isn’t alone in possessing cities where the car is still viewed as king.
Taking as its starting point the experience of Karl-Heiz Pohl, the founder of the city’s first bike courier company, the film includes brief interviews with figures including Klaus Bondam, mayor of Copenhagen from 2006 to 2010, who contrasts the experience of his home city with the very different reality he found in Brussels.
It also features local cycle campaigners and transport professionals who explain how Brussels came to be, as the film puts it, “Europe’s most congested city,” the effect of that on its inhabitants and pointers towards what can be done to change that in the future.
Beautfully shot by Sander Vandenbroucke - be sure to watch it full screen for best effect - above all it's a thought-provoking film, and one that will resonate with anyone who cycles - or perhaps even drives - in Britain's major cities.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.