Twice as many Belgians cycle to work
The bicycle is becoming increasingly popular for commuting in Belgium. More than one in ten Belgian employees (13,4%) regularly take the bicycle for the commuting trip. That is twice as many as five years (6,4%) ago.
This is shown by figures from HR services company, Acerta, based on data from more than 40.000 private sector employers, both SMEs and large companies, on the occasion of the Mobility Week. Public transport has also gained in popularity over the past five years at the expense of the car, although the increase is modest.
Especially the effect of the e-bike on the commuting trip should not be underestimated. For example, the cycling worker covers more than 2 km more distance than five years ago, mainly thanks to the speed pedelecs.
The group that cycles more than 30 km to work grew from 5,5% to 9,8% in the same time. Due to the success of the e-bike, the average commuting distance cycled increased from 7,3 to 9,4 km during this period.
The bicycle allowance is also a trigger to make the switch. The number of employees who receive a bicycle allowance has increased by 25% in two years (from 432.000 to 550.000 people). This is shown by figures from the FPS Finance.
The amount per kilometer traveled since January 1st is 0,24 euros. If you regularly cover a commuting distance of 10 km by bike, you can receive a bicycle allowance of up to 920 euros on an annual basis.
The mobility budget introduced by the government, in force since March 1st, also plays a role. Employers give their employees the opportunity to exchange their polluting car for a low CO2 variant or another sustainable means of transport. They also respond by providing the necessary cycling infrastructure end even offering bicycle leasing.
The latter is relatively new and interesting for workers, for example, who would otherwise have no chance of getting a company car. Moreover, they are allowed to use the bicycle in their spare time.
However, the only drawback with the mobility budget is that the administrative burden can be a stumbling block. “If someone chooses, for example, to take the train to work a few times a month, he must always present these tickets to the employer,” says Dirk Wijns, director of Acerta Consult. “That is quite a hassle. Companies are already developing an app, which should make it easier for them to do so.”
Flanders leading the way
The popularity of bicycles for commuting is increasing throughout Belgium, with Flanders leading the way: 15,2% of the Flemish workers regularly cycle between home and work. The province of Antwerp is the frontrunner: 1 in 5 Antwerp employees cycles to work, and Limburg is the fastest grower (here the percentage tripled).
In Wallonia, the bicycle is the least popular (0,9%). Not illogical given the more substantial distances and the height differences. In Brussels, 3,73% of employees regularly use their bicycles. In 2013 this was 2%.
The increase in cycling employees, who are on average 41 years and four months old, applies to all age categories, except for the oldest (+ 63 years). The over-50s cycle as often as the under -35.
Public transport does not score well
A growing percentage of employees also go to work by train, bus, tram or metro: from 2,8% in 2013 to 4,2% in 2018 for Belgium, in Flanders from 2,5 to 3,8%.
“We must put this growth into perspective: on average, plus 51% in five years is less than what the bicycle (+104%) does,” says Wijns. “The absolute importance of public transport, and especially the train, remains limited: still only 4,15% of employees choose it.”
“The future in terms of mobility? The bicycle will certainly become even more popular, and when road-pricing would be introduced, it will become even more so.”