Minister Smet continues to fight for Brussels cyclists

smetLast week Pascal Smet, Brussels Mobility minister, launched the new version of bike experience and the day after,  20 May, met with EUCG and the other cycling associations on cycle-path strategy and tactics.

The revamped bike experience programme is built around a website that matches “bikers” with trainers (called ‘coaches’) in the light of preferences and location

Of particular interest is the offer of a free (ordinary ) bike for two weeks, or an  e-bike or folding bike for a fee of €70 for the same period, to any new cyclist. Right now the site is somewhat unbalanced, with only 29 bikers for 1273 coaches and – last time we checked – no matches.

Anyone in the institutions who is interested in being coached should sign up – as there are loads of coaches available. Now if only we could find a way to get the 1000 or so unsuccessful OIB scheme applicants to sign up. That would definitely rebalance supply and demand!

The minister was seeking our support for the 20 new cycle paths he has earmarked for the next few years. He hopes to encourage more “ordinary people” to try out cycling. He will then improve cycle paths , in a further phase, with the backing of a critical mass of more cyclists.

Our colleagues from GRACQ have been pressing for the government to change the law to allow experienced cyclists to remain on the road if they so wish, even when there is a separate cycle-path. And it seems that this law could pass in July.

The Minister also asked for more rapid reactions, rebuttals etc from the associations when the plans were called into question, and for increased individual participation in consultations etc, which carried more weight than the associations alone. In the context of Brussels Region’s  struggle to increase the low share of cycling in the mobility mix (less than 5% at the moment), this dynamic, pro-cycling Minister seems to deserve all the support he can get.

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