The new 16km highway (F29) will connect the two cities, providing a safer route for commuters to pursue more sustainable transportation options
Recently announced by authorities in Belgium, a newly planned bicycle highway will connect the city of Leuven in Flanders to the country’s capital of Brussels. Many in the region already make the journey between the two cities as a part of their daily commute, thus, the project is likely to be positively received.
The Flemish government aims to make the journey between the cities safer and faster, with construction starting next year and managed by The Werkvennootschap, a public works company. Additionally, the highway will link to the planned Brussels cycling ring, further connecting the wider city.
Cycling Highways – a growing trend
Bicycle highways have caught the attention of many governing bodies as of late, with projects announced across multiple regions. The infrastructure aims to handle the growing number of cycling commuters in a safe, efficient way. And, although most cities still do not have enough bike traffic to warrant the massive development, as Munich’s Deputy Mayor Katrin Habenschaden explained in a statement in May 2022: “If you sow cycling highways, you get cyclists.”
Just south of the center of Brussels, residents have become increasingly frustrated with the nuisance of shared e-scooters, leading to a complete ban in the municipality.
In Uccle, e-scooters have created major concerns due to the way in which riders were ditching their means of transport. Shared public spaces were overrun much to the frustration of city-dwellers, resulting in a complete ban on the shared micromobility fleets.
“The Brussels municipality has this week demanded by letter to the operators of shared scooters that the shared scooters must be removed from the streets within 10 days. They must also ensure that the shared scooters are no longer parked within the municipal boundaries. The new rules do not apply to private e-scooters and driving through the municipality on an e-scooter is still allowed.“
Belgium’s e-scooter and LEV legal backdrop continues to shift following the devices’ rise to popularity from 2018 onwards. In the last two years, bans have been placed on riders below the age of 16, the two-person riding of e-scooters, sidewalk riding, and limitations have been placed on speed in public areas. The latest development is another step toward Belgium finding a system that works for all citizens.
As of July 1, 2022, new federal laws for the use of e-scooters in Belgium came into place. In the Brussels Capital Region, even stricter measures have been implemented to protect pedestrians. The changes are part of an effort to address concerns over road safety and hindrance linked to the increasing use of e-scooters.
To address the concerns over e-scooter safety new regulation was required. Georges Gilkinet, Federal Minister of Mobility, explained: “The world has changed and so has our mobility. The electric scooter is now part of our daily life. But with the increase in the number of accidents, sometimes with serious consequences, it was necessary to react. New rules will come into effect from 1 July to better protect scooter users and other road users. Let’s strive together for more safety and fewer accidents on our roads. All For Zero”.
The new rules:
The new rules mean that users of e-scooters, or any other micromobility transport method, will be assimilated to cyclists. In effect, riding on sidewalks or in pedestrianized areas is no longer permitted. In situations where permitted, speed must be reduced to 5km/h and pedestrians have right of way.
Additionally, a minimum age requirement of 16 years has been introduced, and riding e-scooters with two or more passengers is prohibited. Alongside these changes, new guidance for e-scooter parking has been introduced, including signage for designated parking destinations, non-parking zones, and laws against obstruction of the sidewalk.
Additional rules in Brussels:
The new rules have also been welcomed in the Brussels-Capital Region. At the same time, the Region has introduced additional rules on the use of e-scooters. Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Minister of Mobility, added: “Electric scooters are a convenient way to get around, as long as they do not hinder pedestrians and people with reduced mobility. That is too often the case now. Thousands of these shared scooters appeared on our streets and it is high time for stricter regulation. In addition to the federal rules, the Brussels-Capital Region decided to automatically limit the speed of scooters in pedestrian zones and to limit the number of scooters per operator.”
Specifically, e-scooters in pedestrianized zones are now limited to 8km/h, while across the entirety of the region, the top speed is limited to 20km/h. For comparison, the general top speed limitation of e-scooters in Europe is 25km/h.
Bart Dhondt, Mobility Councillor of the City of Brussels, stated: “Parents, their children, and people with mobility problems no longer felt comfortable in the pedestrian zone. By ensuring that the shared-use e-scooters can only travel at a walking pace, the pedestrian zone will once again become a space for everyone.”
Belgian start-up Taito aims to combat the safety issues of e-scooter use in city traffic, developing a three-wheel e-scooter with floating deck and propriety suspension.
As the popularity of e-scooters has risen, so have the associated injury and accident statistics. The Belgium Institute for Road Safety has determined the main causes of such incidents to be instability and uneven roads. Alongside providing a comfortable and fun ride, LEVA-EU member Taito aims to tackle these safety issues directly.
Taito co-founder François Desmet shares, “We started with a three-wheeled design to increase stability. Then we developed a suspension system that allows users to tilt and turn the front wheels while also dampening road vibrations. The wooden deck is isolated from the frame with rubber studs which gives it a floating appearance. To further improve safety at night we integrated indicator lights and a rider light, which illuminates the back of the rider in bright red, to be visible from all angles.”
Finally, by partnering with Accelerated Systems Inc. (ASI) as a motor controller supplier, Taito can precisely program their scooters using the BACDoor Engineering Software. This allows for an extra smooth ride and unique rider profiles.
The Flemish foundation for traffic expertise (VSV) has launched training for compagnies and their employees on how to have safely ride a speed pedelec.
Main goal of the training is to raise awareness on the use of a speed pedelec. The course consists of a theoretical part which educates attendees on the national traffic code, position on the road and relevant traffic signs. Part two is practical and trains attendees on how to use their speed pedelec in a functional and safe manner. Additionally, there is a group discussion among the attendees about risk perception.
VSV hopes to improve the safety for speed pedelec users and with that the overall traffic safety in Belgium.