They may love cycling in Belgium but even so the town of Dendermonde is to introduce fines and possible bike confiscations to try to curb, the rising numbers of what the mayor dubs "cycle terrorists" bringing two-wheeled terror to the local towpath – no, not hoodie wearing youths riding cheap MTBs on the pavement, but roadies out on training rides… this is Belgium after all.
Mayor Peter Buyse, told the Het Laatste Nieuws that the town was plagued with "large platoon of cyclists racing as if their lives depended on it… Not with three or ten men, but in groups of one hundred or more. Swarm after swarm passes there and that makes the residents really sick and tired." Folllowing on from reports of injuries to other cyclists and pedestrians and in response to a riding tide of complaints from residents the the town has acted. From now on cyclists in Dendermonde are not allowed to ride in groups any larger than 10 riders, and there must be a minimum of 1000m between any such groups. Anyone breaking the rules risks a police fine of €120 and persistent offenders can have their bikes confiscated – for 24hours, this is Belgium after all.
The problem in Dendermonde seems to stem from cyclists using the local cycle paths along the River Scheldt and nearby public roads as a training loop of which they do multiple circuits. Large numbers of cyclists of going one way down a cycle path at speed is inevitably going to lead to conflicts with pedestrians and other cyclists coming the other way. The Flemish Cycle Union has condemned the actions of the council in Dendermonde as an overreaction, but cycling groups in the Netherlands have in the past acknowledged such behaviour as a problem on some cycle paths - last month a 69 year old road cyclist traveling at speed on a path in Overveen was killed when he collided head-on with a group of German tourists traveling the other way.
In Dendermonde – the mayor was keen to explain to the local media that the new rules only apply to groups of cyclists doing circuits of the locality - not to groups of cyclists riding from point too point through Dendermonde or along the dyke, this is Belgium after all.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.