It is now illegal for motorists to overtake cyclists in the centre of Bruges, after the local authority last week turned 90 of the Belgian city’s streets into cycling-friendly zones.
The decision means that Bruges, the capital of West Flanders and the host of the time trial events at last year’s UCI road world championships, now boasts 13 kilometres of dedicated ‘bicycle streets’.
According to TheMayor.EU, a website reporting on sustainable initiatives across Europe, on these bicycle streets – which cover the entirety of the city centre – cyclists will have the right to use the full width of the lane, while motorists must adhere to the 30kph speed limit (already common across the city) and cannot pass anyone riding a bike.
This cost-effective way of creating bike-friendly streets – the initiative in Bruges only requires changing signage and road markings – is growing in popularity across Europe, with many local authorities recognising it as a quick, cheap and easy alternative to installing protected cycle lanes.
In March, officials in the city of Luxembourg announced the creation of seven new ‘priority cycling boulevards’, the result of a two-year trial designed to break the Grand Duchy’s car dependency.
In 2020, campaigners in Antwerp argued that the Flemish city’s streets were too narrow for motorists to leave a safe passing distance when they are overtaking cyclists, and called for the same measures due to implemented in nearby Bruges.
The announcement of the ‘bicycle streets’ scheme in Bruges also coincides with the creation of a new car-sharing pilot for employees who live too far from the city to work, while families in Bruges are eligible for a €500 subsidy if they sell their car, in a bid to encourage them to spend the money on a bike or a public transport subscription.
These initiatives form part of Bruges’ renewed focus on sustainable mobility, after a recent report found that the city was lagging behind on its environmental goals for the rest of this decade.
According to the report, which published the interim results for Bruges’ Climate Plan 2030, while the city’s residents have increased the number of journeys they take by bike, there remains an overt reliance on fossil fuels to heat homes and businesses.
CO2 emissions have also fallen by 17 percent in the last decade, below the 20 percent target set in 2011 – and miles off the city’s ambitious plan to cut its emissions by half while also constructing climate neutral buildings and expanding cycling infrastructure.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.