Belgians use more bikes and public transport to go to work
The latest Federal Mobility Public Service study on home-to-work travels in Belgium shows a growth in the use of bicycles (+43%) and public transport (15%) since 2005. Still, 65% of Belgian citizens use their car to go to work. The worst pupil in terms of alternative mobility is Wallonia. Due to poor public transport connections and badly maintained or non-existent cycling paths, 83% of the citizens of the south use their cars to go to work.
Since 2005, the Federal Mobility Public Service studies the Belgians’ habits in terms of home-to-work travels. This fifth survey gathers data from 2017 and it shows a good progression for alternative mobility solutions. Globally, the share of car use for home-to-work travels has gone from 66,8% in 2005 to 65% in 2017.
Bicycle use in Brussels: +259%
Helped, certainly, by the gain in interest for electrically assisted bicycles, the share of bicycle usage has increased all over the country. Since 2005, it progressed by 43%. Still, everywhere but in Flanders (17%) its modal share is little (4,4% in Brussels, 1,6% in Wallonia). Today, one trip out of ten is done on a bicycle.
Whereas the use of bicycles is booming in the capital (+259), it still falls back in Wallonia. “In the south, cycling paths are in a bad shape or badly located”, declares Luc Goffinet from the non-profit Gracq. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, though. Wallonia announced a budget increase for bicycles from 15 to 50 million.
‘Infrastructure is the major issue’
“There’s been an improvement in infrastructure, but we’re still very far from having continuous and secure paths”, adds Mr Goffinet. The Walloon and Federal politic specialist adds that the small ring road for bikes, regional cycling paths and the bike-ready RER/GEM aren’t there yet.
“The major issue is the infrastructure. But traffic also has to be reduced. People also need a secure place to store their bicycles. This will help them to take the leap”, he adds.
Public transport vs. cars
In twelve years, the share of use for trains has increased by 11,6% while other public transport solutions gained 15%. Today, those coming into Brussels by train (34%) are nearly as many as those who take their cars. The four-wheeled vehicle lost 20% in the capital.
Yet, again, Wallonia goes the other way. Compared to 2005, the use of cars in the region grew from 80,4 to 83%. The train is only used for four trips in 100. Employees are complaining about bad network connections. Six out of ten believe that the timetable isn’t adapted to the working life. As many complain about delays.
It goes without saying: choices made by the companies impact the habits of their employees. The most obvious one is the localisation. Then come the incentives for alternative mobility. Three-quarters of workers in Wallonia and Brussels benefit from a bicycle allowance. They’re nine out of ten in Flanders. 53% of Walloon employees and 65% of those in Brussels have free access to public transport.
In addition to providing covered bicycle locks and showers, these measures tend to increase the use of public transport (+14%) and bicycles (+31%). Flexible working hours and homeworking have also helped to reduce congestion. The latter one cuts car trips by 2,4% in Wallonia and 5,9% in Brussels.