In La Hulpe, Walloon Minister of Mobility and Road Infrastructure Philippe Henry (Ecolo) has inaugurated the very first Walloon section of the bicycle highway.
The bicycle highways should become the backbone of the Walloon structuring bicycle network, which the government wants to establish to offer attractive alternatives to car use. At the same time, they also want to catch up with Flanders and the Brussels Region where the bicycle network is already much better rolled out.
Located along the N275, near Solvay Castle, the 1,85-km stretch of the route extends to the border of Flanders, where work is underway to extend it to the capital. The investment for this first stretch, provided by the European Recovery Plan, amounts to 2 493 million euros.
The goal is to extend the bicycle highway to Brussels, but also to continue the works until the crossroads of the so-called Trois Colonnes, the real gateway to Walloon Brabant for the inhabitants of Brussels, in 2024.
Thanks to the new bicycle connection on the N275, a connection will be established between Terhulpen/Rixensart/Lasne toward Hoeilaart/Watermael-Boitsfort, and the Brussels-Capital Region.
€80 million for bicycle highway infrastructure
Specifically, this will be a bicycle path 3 meters wide, separated from the car roads by a hedge and wooden fences. It is located on the left side of the roadway toward Brussels, to allow safer connections to the entrances of the Castle de La Hulpe estate, and easily connected to the project being carried out on Flemish territory in Hoeilaert.
Projects and studies are currently underway to connect Eigenbrakel to Tubize, Wavre to Court-Saint-Etienne, and Louvain-la-Neuve to Namur. The Walloon Government had earmarked a budget of 80 million euros for the construction of bicycle highways.
The Public Service Mobility of Wallonia (SPW) estimates that such cycle highways have a potential of 2 000 cyclists per day. In time, there will thus be five cycling corridors linking Brussels to the major poles of Walloon Bryant.
Some fifteen projects are also being studied in the Liège region. Others are expected in Charleroi.
Change in mentality
However, according to Luc Goffinet of Gracq, one of the associations defending cyclists, a change in mentality is also needed in Wallonia. “During our last cycling barometer in Wallonia, only two municipalities were considered really favorable to cycling,” he says in the newspaper La Libre Belgique.
“If we want to create a network of roads where cyclists feel comfortable, we need the participation of the local level. Bicycle highways alone are not going to save Wallonia. Flanders and Brussels are doing it, but we feel that as soon as it’s a matter of taking space from the car, it evokes hostilities.”
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