Flanders sees bike paths in good condition increase slightly

The number of bicycle paths along regional roads in Flanders that are in excellent or decent condition has increased slightly, by 3,3%, to 63,8%. This is according to the new bicycle paths report of the Agency for Roads and Traffic (Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer, AWV), which gives a picture of about 7,000 km of bicycle paths along Flemish regional roads.

Overall, bicycle paths improved in four of the five provinces. Limburg is the leader, with an increase of 16,4%. Only in Antwerp did the number of bike lanes in good condition decrease by 7,7%.-

Compared to the previous measurement, the design of bicycle paths in Flanders has improved in all provinces, concludes AWV. This concerns, for example, the width and spacing. Here, Antwerp is the front runner, with 71,7% of bicycle paths scoring moderate to excellent on design.

According to the agency, cycling in Flanders is becoming increasingly comfortable because bicycle paths are often constructed in asphalt instead of bricks. Flatness is also improving.

More bicycle commuters in Flemish Brabant

Better road infrastructure also translates into a greater number of bicycle movements in some provinces. For example, in the province of Flemish Brabant, the number of bicycle commuters using bicycle highways for commuting increased slightly by 1% in 2023 compared to the previous year. On the recreational bicycle network, however, a slight decrease in the number of cyclists was observed.

About three million bicycle movements were recorded in Flemish Brabant in 2023. This is a 6% decrease compared to 2022, which the province says is due to the lower number of movements on the recreational network. The province sees bad weather as the cause.

Record number of cyclists in Ghent

In Ghent, East Flanders, too, you see a trend in which bicycles are a dominant mode of transportation on the way to work or school. Last year, for example, nearly 3 million cyclists passed Coupure, a new record, or an average of 8,000 per day (+10%, compared to 2022). On other busy axes in Ghent, the number of cyclists also continues to break records, new figures show.

AWV uses the bicycle paths report to draw up an investment plan per province. In 2024, the agency has 220 million euros available for this purpose. That’s more than in 2021, 2022, and 2023, when 200 million, 181 million, and 176 million euros were invested, respectively.

More money in cycle infrastructure, but still more fatalities

Minister of Mobility Lydia Peeters (Open Vld) thinks the figures in the next cycling report will even be better “since there are still a lot of projects, tendered this year or last, to be implemented. This legislature initiated the acceleration, and we continue to take numerous measures to ensure that cycling becomes safer and more comfortable.”

A total of 1,4 billion dollars was invested in bicycle infrastructure in this legislature. Yet, it appears that there is still room for improvement in terms of bicycle safety. For example, only half of the inhabitants of Ghent think that you can cycle safely in the neighborhood, and 45% do not think it is safe for children to cycle to school, figures or remarks that are also found or heard elsewhere in Flanders.

In 2022, 5,323 cyclists were involved in an accident in a zone 50 in Flanders; 40 of them died. This means that the number of cycling fatalities in the Flemish Zone 50 has increased by 40% since 2019.

According to the new bicycle policy plan, Flemish people must make more than 30% of their journeys by bicycle by 2040. Currently, that is 15%. Flanders wants zero traffic deaths in 2050 as the ultimate goal.

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