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Applause for bike commuters on World Cycling Day

09:05 05/06/2024

Commuter cyclists in more than 100 locations across Belgium were treated to applause on World Cycling Day, 3 June.

The applause initiative, called ‘Clap au Vélo’, comes from cycling organisations Gracq and Fietsersbond.

“It's a resolutely positive action that thanks cyclists on their morning commute,” organisers said.

“Carried out at the edge of a cycle path, at a strategic crossroads, or at the entrance to a school or business, Clap au Vélo aims to shine a spotlight on a means of transport that meets some of today's major challenges: car congestion, health, air quality, environment.”

Belgium is increasingly embracing the bicycle, with at least 570,000 bikes sold in 2023 – 100,000 more than the number of cars, according to Traxio, the mobility federation that includes bike shops.

“Cycling has really taken off in recent years,” Traxio’s Filip Rylant told RTBF.

Electric bikes are now outperforming conventional bicycles with 51% of the market share – “a turning point, a historic moment,” according to Rylant – and the number of cargo bikes sold is also rising.

“These vehicles are good alternatives, especially in urban environments, for moving materials, delivering last-mile goods or transporting children,” Rylant said.

Cycling remains most popular in Flanders (where an estimated 95% of bikes are sold), where significant investment has been made in cycling infrastructure.

An estimated one in eight workers in Belgium commutes by bike, with the proportion of cycling commuters rising from 8% in 2018 to 13% in 2023, according to data from human resources provider SD Worx.

Commuting is also more popular in Flanders (17% of workers) than in Brussels (6%) and Wallonia (2%), although SD Worx notes that these are underestimated, as the figures come only from workers who receive a specific allowance from their employer.

In terms of distances travelled, Brussels took the number one spot with an average of 145 kilometres per cyclist per month. Workers in Wallonia (137km/month) are just ahead of those in Flanders (136km/month).

Most of the kilometres cycled are by commuters who work between 16 and 30 kilometres from home.

Written by Helen Lyons