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Belgian capital given over to riders, bladers and walkers

Belgian capital Brussels celebrated its twelfth annual car-free Sunday yesterday.

The city centre was closed to motor vehicles between 7am and 7pm as the culmination of ‘mobility week’, which aimed to promote alternatives to car use, according to Le Soir.

The car-free day was a success and attracted thousands of visitors to taste the joys of cycling, skating or even walking in the streets of the capital, according to the Brussels Secretary of State for Mobility, Bruno De Lille.

However, there was one hiccup, or collection of hiccups. Ambulances were called out to treat more minor falls and sprains among cyclists than on a regular Sunday. The usual average is 250 calls; on Sunday there were 350.

Our French is rusty to say the least, but it certainly looks like most of the people in the first of these two videos were having a good time, and local TV even resisted the temptation to find an irate taxi driver to interview.

In this second video, though, a few drivers unable to get into Brussels do seem to be getting a bit impatient.

;

Still, the day had royal blessing, with King Phillippe and Queen Mathilde taking to the streets by bike with their four children:

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

7 comments

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TheSpaniard [98 posts] 2 years ago
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That "cycle-free day" (caption under top picture) doesn't appear to have been very successful

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congokid [266 posts] 2 years ago
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@TheSpaniard
Agree - change of caption required here.

Re the photo, I'd tend to steer clear of cobbled roads on my Brompton. It's a twitchy ride at the best of times and an uneven surface to cycle on, especially if damp, would only exacerbate that.

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ronin [268 posts] 2 years ago
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Wow, the first video @ 0:26 seeing all those people on bikes; it's very different, more human than if all those people were in cars.
People feel inclined to acknowledge each other on bikes in a way that just doesn't happen in cars...

They should have the same in the UK.

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OldRidgeback [2628 posts] 2 years ago
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The impatient drivers trying to get into Brussels were probably not facing much worse traffic than usual. Brussels has amongst the worst vehicle congestion in Europe. It's a nice city in many ways but driving or cycling there isn't fun.

And it's worth noting too that Belgium has around twice the number of road fatalities/million km travelled than neighbouring Holland. That says a lot about comparative enforcement measures and penalties for offenders in those respective countries.

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Jonathan Knight [18 posts] 2 years ago
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congokid wrote:

@TheSpaniard
Agree - change of caption required here.

Re the photo, I'd tend to steer clear of cobbled roads on my Brompton. It's a twitchy ride at the best of times and an uneven surface to cycle on, especially if damp, would only exacerbate that.

But the Belgians are probably pretty good over cobbles

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Oscarzero [24 posts] 2 years ago
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"They should have the same in the UK."

We did/do - on the 4th/5th of August - The London Freecycle event in particular was saw the closure of a significiant part of central Lonond covering all the best tourist spots, albeit on a slightly smaller scale to Brussels.

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ct [171 posts] 2 years ago
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How about....we should do it in the rest of the UK that isn't London....if indeed this mythical 'rest of the UK' actually exists