Flanders: Speed pedelecs soon welcome on towpaths

In Flanders, speed pedelecs are only allowed on towpaths being part of a bicycle highway. However, according to the new policy vision on towpaths, Flemish Mobility Minister Lydia Peeters Open Vld) has agreed with the Flemish Waterway (Vlaamse Waterweg), those fast-riding e-bikes will get access to all towpaths in Flanders, provided they respect the maximum speed limit of 30 km/hour.

Flanders has almost 2 000 kilometers of towpaths and dyke roads along its navigable waterways. In the past, those paths were used to tow ships with human or horse power.

Today, the paths are still used for inspection, transshipment, water management, and the maintenance of canals, bridges, banks, and quay walls. But they’re also increasingly popular among cyclists, hikers, and sports enthusiasts. And the increased recreational use of the paths causes more potential conflicts between users.

A speed limit of 30 kph

Minister Peeters has, therefore, outlined the new ‘Functional and Recreational Use of Towpaths’ vision to improve safety for all towpath users. The maximum speed will be limited to 30 km/hour, and this limit will apply to speed pedelecs and cycling tourist groups. In addition to speed, maintenance, and lighting will be improved to guarantee safety.

The Flemish cyclists association (Fietsersbond) is satisfied with the decision. “We have been asking for this since 2019 because those towpaths are perfectly suitable for long-distance trips, for example, commuting.”

Peaking sales

Speed pedelecs are increasingly popular in Belgium, especially in Flanders. During the first two months of the year, 2 581 new speed pedelecs were registered in Belgium. That’s a thousand more than at the beginning of last year.

Companies (+125,5%) and leasing companies (+122,1%) each registered more than double the number of speed pedelecs and saw their market share rise to 19,2% and 50,7%, respectively. On the other hand, the percentage of private registrations represented ‘only’ 30%.


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