Brussels residents abandon car to cycle and walk more

People living in Brussels take their cars less often than ten years ago and more often go by bike or on foot. These are the results of a new study by Brussels Mobility.

Every day, the capital’s inhabitants make 3,3 million journeys, accounting for 25 million kilometers traveled. Most of these are done on foot (36%), followed by cars (27%), public transport (22%), and bicycles (9%). The latter may still be a small overall percentage, but it’s the most prominent moral winner as it has the most significant percentage increase.

Walking is the most common mode of transport

The results – the study compares the journeys made by Brussels residents with those made ten years ago – show that walking has become the most common mode of transport used by Brussels residents, with a 36% share, compared to 32% in 2010.

At the same time, the share of the car fell sharply from 38% to 27%, and that of the bicycle rose from 3% to 9%. A good 22% of trips are made by bus, tram, or metro (24% in 2010), and 2% are made by train, the same share as in 2010. Finally, 1% of journeys are made by e-scooter. Other modes of transport (e.g., van, motorbike, taxi) each account for less than 1% of trips.

Average journey of 3,3 km

The most common reason for moving after commuting (38,8%) is shopping (15,2%). However, work and professional trips account for 10,5% of trips, less than before (14% in 2010), probably due to telework, which increased sharply during the corona crisis.

Whereas the average journey usually is 7,7 km, within the Brussels region, it is only 3,3 km. And 45% of Brussels residents’ journeys are less than or equal to 2 km. For these short trips, walking is the most used means of transport.

‘Steps remain big for cyclists’

“This study also shows that traffic jams are not inevitable and that change is possible. I am very happy with this,” said Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen).

The introduction of Zone 30, the investments in cycle paths, the crown jewel for the moment still being the – still partly under construction – segregated cycle lanes along the inner ring road, and Good Move have certainly increased the quality of life for cyclists in the capital. Although the Cyclists’ Union says much work must be done to make Brussels biking safe.

“Especially for inexperienced cyclists, such as children, the steps remain big,” spokesperson Wies Callens reacted. “There is a need for more separated cycle lanes.” He also refers to a new danger: the increasing aggression of motorists toward cyclists.

The survey further shows that 46% of Brussels households own a car, which is low compared to the rest of the country. Furthermore, 47% own at least one bicycle, and 11% at least one electric bike. Almost 5% of Brussels households own an e-scooter, and 8% are signed up for a shared e-scooter system.

For the survey, 2 685 people were surveyed, randomly selected from the national register.


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