Federal mobility survey: commuter bike remains on the rise

Cycling is becoming increasingly popular for commuting in Belgium, and employers are doing more to support sustainable mobility modes. This pops up clearly from the 6th edition of the survey organized every three years by the Belgian FPS Mobility and Transport among all private and public sector employers with at least 100 employees.

In general, compared with the last survey in 2017, there is an increase of 26,3% in cycling as a mode of transport for commuting. This makes cycling the second most popular mode of transportation in Belgium, after the car but before the train.

E-bike gives commuting a push

In general, cycling is the transportation mode that has grown most strongly over the years in Belgium’s three regions. The rise of electric bikes and speed pedelecs is no stranger to this. The bicycle is now the primary mode for 14,1% of Belgian commuters, compared to 7,8% in 2005, and 11,1% in 2017.

In 2021, 95% of employers have paid bicycle allowances, 73% have covered bicycle parking, and 59% offer free public transport for commuting. By May 1st at the latest, all workers in the private sector will be entitled to a bicycle allowance.

In Flanders, 20% of employees cycle to work (+21,9%). In Brussels, it is 7,2% (+65,5%), and in Wallonia, it is barely 2,4% (+49,7%). According to employers, these differences are due to the relief of the landscape, but also to the cycling infrastructure that is better developed in Flanders and Brussels.

Wallonia may have ten times fewer commuters who cycle to work than Flanders, but elsewhere in Belgium, there has been an increase in densely populated areas such as large cities.

Fewer use of public transport

It is also noteworthy that, between the last edition of the survey in 2017 and this new one in 2021, corona measures have clearly affected Belgians’ mobility choices. Public transport is used less: -6% for metros, trams and buses, and -11,5% for trains. But in the Brussels-Capital Region, it is now the most used mode of commuting (50%) ahead of the car.

Especially in Wallonia, this decline benefits the car. There, it remains the preferred mode of transport for almost 85% of workers, compared to 67% in Flanders and 37% in Brussels. Again, in Brussels, there is an 8,5% drop in car use for commuting.

However, carpooling has collapsed: 2,4% of commuting trips in Wallonia (-23% in five years), 1,8% in Flanders (-30,1%), and 1,1% in Brussels (-17,8%).

Effect of teleworking

Another consequence of the corona crisis, although it is not a new fact anymore, is the increasing teleworking. Some 82% of workers have the option of teleworking or 3,7 times more than in 2017.

The number of telework days has also risen sharply, increasing the number of trips avoided by telework by more than six times in four years. Yet, according to the FPS, this increase does not necessarily make for smoother car travel, barely offsetting the rise in the number of workers since 2005.

Almost 3 600 employers participated in the survey, representing more than 1,6 million employees.

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