Brussels goes car-free for the day as royal family joins in two-wheeled festival

Belgian capital given over to riders, bladers and walkers

by John Stevenson   September 23, 2013  

Last years Brussels cycle-free day

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:

7 user comments

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That "cycle-free day" (caption under top picture) doesn't appear to have been very successful

posted by TheSpaniard [61 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 17:51

7 Likes

@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.

posted by congokid [129 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 18:21

9 Likes

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.

posted by ronin [151 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 21:33

8 Likes

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.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2238 posts]
24th September 2013 - 8:39

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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

posted by Jonathan Knight [16 posts]
24th September 2013 - 8:57

10 Likes

"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.

They Made Me Do It!

posted by Oscarzero [20 posts]
24th September 2013 - 12:19

8 Likes

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

posted by ct [54 posts]
24th September 2013 - 15:39

10 Likes