Brussels has opened its first-ever cycling “motorway”.
A new track is running alongside one of Belgium’s busiest roads, which connects Brussels with the area to its west.
It is part of an effort to increase sustainable travel, respect social distancing and ease pressure on crowded public transport in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Within Brussels, two-thirds of trips made are of a distance of less than 5 kilometres so the bike is suitable for that,” said Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels’ minister for mobility.
She says there needs to be a change of mindset in Brussels to encourage commuters to ditch their cars in favour of the bicycle.
But the division of the road between cars and bicycles isn’t supported by automobile associations like Touring.
“This kind of measure or this kind of redevelopment was carried out quickly and without consultation, without measuring the impact that it could have on road traffic,” said Touring spokesman Danny Smagghe.
They believe giving car lanes to bikes will cause more traffic jams.
Touring says the new cyclists could just be a fad, that people might only cycle in nice weather and that they’ll still turn to their cars in the end.
But Van den Brandt said the “motorist need to understand that cyclists are their best ally because they’re not in front or behind you in a traffic jam. He is not going to steal your parking space.”
In a joint declaration, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are also asking the European Commission to help member states to develop cycling routes like this.