Discussion: What about trams in Brussels?

A video of a tram driving very close behind a cyclist in Brussels – which triggered an intense discussion in the EUCG committee – pros and cons.

[12 Sep 2019, The Brussels Times, Link]

A video of a tram driving very close behind a cyclist in Brussels has been shared on Twitter with Brussels transport company STIB, questioning if the driver was behaving properly at that time.

The video – shared with the company on Tuesday – shows a cyclist riding on the bicycle lane on the Chaussée de Charleroi, while a tram driver follows close behind blasting the horn.

“Say, @STIBMIVB… article 33 of the highway code, what does your driver think? Not to mention the oppressive, dangerous and uncivilized side? (Plus, the cyclist who rides in the designated area of the road!),” the video’s recorder said on Twitter.

Dis, @STIBMIVB … l’article 33 du code de la route, ton chauffeur il en pense quoi? Sans compter le côté oppressant, dangereux et le manque de civilité ? (Plus, le cycliste qui roule à l’endroit désigné de la chaussée!) #mobility #stib #fail @ProVelo_be @SmetPascal pic.twitter.com/WZB0IQsUcT

— KFCWF (@kfcwf) September 10, 2019

According to STIB, however, the driver may have been uncourteous, was not at fault.

“As soon as it is possible, vulnerable road users have to make way for the tram,” STIB replied to the initial message on Twitter.

By honking, other road users must give priority to the tram. STIB added that while it regrets that the behaviour of the driver in question is not courteous, the driver is not at fault

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

The Brussels Times could have made a better job and make some effort to research on the topic.

Here’s the view from Nieuwsblad.be (translated from Dutch with Google)

[19 Sep 2017, Nieuwsblad.be, Link Translated]

What about now: does a cyclist have to step aside for a tram?

Ghent – “If there is a tram behind you, just continue cycling. You don’t have to step aside quickly. ”That is stated in a new code of conduct from the Ghent Cycling Association. De Lijn confirms: “If you can move aside, please. If it is not safe, ignore the tram. “

Tram versus bicycle: who needs to step aside? It is a question that many Ghent cyclists ask themselves. The situation is recognizable: you cycle in the Nederkouter towards the center, and a tram pops up behind you. The driver starts a thorough phone call. What should you do?

Nothing, it turns out. You can just continue cycling. This is how it appears in a new list of rules of conduct for cyclists in Ghent . This was drawn up by the Fietsersbond, because “the rise in Ghent’s bicycle use is sometimes accompanied by growing pains”.


That’s right, the police say. “There are two articles of the law,” said spokesperson Matto Langeraert. The road code says that every road user must give priority to rail vehicles and must ‘remove himself from the tracks as quickly as possible’. But there is also an article that says that the driver of a rail vehicle must slow down “when there is a danger.”

The law therefore does not provide a definitive answer. “No. Wherever possible, a cyclist should actually step aside. But it depends on the street you drive. For example, in the Nederkouter it is not always possible to deviate. We therefore count on the courtesy of cyclists and tram drivers. “

Read a more detailed statement on the website of the Ghent police.


Experience shows that tram drivers do not restrain themselves from ringing. “We ask to go aside where possible. But that is not enforceable,“says Marianne Thysebaert of De Lijn. “If it is difficult or dangerous to move aside, the vehicle must adjust.”

“If a cyclist judges that it is not safe to divert, he may continue to ride in front of the tram. Even if it calls, yes. The cyclist can ignore that. We don’t want people to panic and end up in the tracks. ”

What do you think about this?

Is this the fault of the person on the bicycle?

Or the tram driver?

How do you feel when tram is behind you?

Share your opinion in the comments below!


  1. In my >10.000km experience biking in Brussels in the last two years, I witnessed too many “attempted murders” from people whose job is to drive in the city: taxi drivers and STIB drivers. These populations seem to have a particular issue with bikes, probably due the fact that they are not used to them + nobody trained them specifically on how to share the road with these “new” users.
    The replies of the STIB “customers’ service” on this and similar issues are appalling – and show that the root issue is mentality and training. When a taxi driver did not give me priority and made me fall, his first comment was “why didn’t you stop”? I had to call the police and wait for the Parquet du Roi to recognise I was right. A bus driver on Montgomery almost kicked me on the ground and pretended to be right because he had signalled he was turning… only I was a few inches from his bus when he did, and could not just disappear!!
    So someone should teach to these drivers not only the rules, but also common sense and respect in applying them. A nice sign I have seen in North America (where driving is much better regulated) and would be welcome here is: “SHARE THE ROAD”

  2. The same happened to me at exaclty the same location 6 months ago. I can confirm that:
    1. having a tram “pushing” and honking you is very scary and could provoke accidents
    2. there was no spot for me to give space to the tram, none that felt safe (parked cars and new very high trottoirs)
    3. it was completely unecessary behavior as my speed was 25 kmh (pedelec) and the next tram station is only 150 m further. The guy on the brompton is also fast.

    At the time I felt so endangered that I stopped, took out my phone to make a picture of the driver but he hid taking down the sunscreen.

    I saw from the video comments that other people had the same experience.

    Setting aside the possible lack of courtesy of the cyclist and tram driver, the STIB’s twitter reaction on a video showing extremely dangerous behaviour is incredible! The problem could just their social media manager’s stupidity. But I don’t think so. But having seen tram drivers confusing their right of priority with a right to ram other vehicles I fear there is a real problem of tolerance to dangerous behaviour within the STIB.

    Yes the infrastructure is bad and somehting should be done about it. In the meantime I think it is also OK to say that there is a problem at the STIB, that needs to be addressed.

    “Bien que nous regrettions ce comportement peu courtois, le conducteur n’a pas commis d’erreur. Bonne journée”

  3. I usually go a bit faster than tram; if this is not the case, at the first tram stop, I will definitively be far ahead. But in this case I imagine to slow down or even stop to ask the tram driver why does he honk…. (Am I provocative ? ….)

  4. Clearly a case of bad road design. I remember that some 10-12 years ago, when the road was to be renovated, STIB/MIVB had actually proposed to get rid of the car parkings along the curb to have trams on ‘site propre’ and more space for everyone. Foreseably its plan was rejected, with the usual (bad) arguments: customers will desert my shop/restaurant, I live there and think I have a right to park in front of my house, etc.
    The current situation, basically the status quo ante, frustrates everyone: cars still don’t find parking space, trams are stuck in traffic, cyclists have no choice but to ride between the tracks, pedestrinas walking in an unpleasant environment,…
    The situation in the video exemplifiess this frustration, for once from the perspective of a tram driver, who is under pressure to keep his schedule. Of course, this honking is unacceptable, as it could have provoked a potentially severe accident (frightened cyclist losing control and falling). And yes, trams have priority, in a sense when you cross their path (coming from right or on a pedestrian path). Here there is no question of priority, just some road user slower than the one behind.
    As long as such roads are built, this will continue to occur.

  5. In most countries Trams and Trains have a priority above all other users on the road. I think this is mainly due to physics – trains and trams cannot change direction, the only thing they can do is to slow down. However, to slow down they have an immense inertia to deal with.

    What is tricky here in Brussels that in many situations there is no other place, just in front of the tram. Like Chaussé de Charleroi (starting from avenue Louise).

    I find it dangerous to go to the side, there is a high risk of being caught up between the parking cars and the tram, and there is nowhere to escape.

    I wish we used the space better in Brussels, especially in the tightly packed city centre, and not for storing a few cars.

  6. Because bikers are potentially clients for Trams , busses and taxi’s they drive dangerously and they are trying very hard to convince us to leave the bike at home and take the bus tram or taxi. If I have a problem in Brussel it is mostly with bus tram or taxi drivers.

  7. In any case, the behaviour of the wattman driving the tram is rude, anti-professional, dangerous and has all the characteristics of a road rage against a weak road user. Therefore the discussion wether the cyclist is to blame or not irrelevant.
    If the question is : is the bicycle AND public transport infrastructure problematic in Brussels, the answer is obviously “yes”. Is there too much street parking, the answer is also “yes”. Is there a problem with street liveability, the answer is also “yes”. All the rest are consequences. I don’t see much more to say here.

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