Brussels becomes the new bike capital. Get ready! Get a BZEN bike!
Belgium is proud of waffles, chocolate, beer… and Eddie Merckx, Belgian professional road and track bicycle racer known by every proud Belgian. Merckx got his first bicycle at the age of three or four and achieved 525 victories over his eighteen-year career! Impressive, isn’t it?
Though Belgium is very proud of Eddie, who is now seen as the most successful rider in the history of competitive cycling, the country capital, Brussels, couldn’t boast of special attention to the riders and bicycle routes. Until this spring and summer, when city authorities had to search for safe alternative means of transportation for citizens. They couldn’t but notice that bikes were a worthy substance of public transportation and cars. And it was decided to build additional 40 kilometres of cycling paths in Brussels.
It was a well-timed decision that led to the fact that cycling traffic rose compared to the numbers of last year of the same period. Vehicle traffic also reduced to between 4 and 8%, which decreased the time drivers spent in traffic to ten minutes.
“We are going to continue our efforts to promote cycling with secure cycling paths, more bicycle parking facilities and campaigns to repair old bicycles that are lying unused in basements,” said Regional Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt.
As a result of these improvements, biking became safer and more efficient. Commuting on a bike is a pleasant and more healthy way to get around the city on regular bases. If you consider switching to a bike, you should know some easy rules to follow.
In Brussels, bikes are allowed in both directions on almost any street. For one way streets, you can ride in the opposite direction if you see a sign that says “Excepte / Uitgezonderd” with a picture of a bike. Otherwise, cyclists have to follow the same rules as cars: giving priority to pedestrians and vehicles entering from the right, stopping at red lights, and obeying all traffic signs. Remember, bikes cannot ride on the sidewalks. If there is a designated bike path, you have to use it. When not, you share the road with pedestrians, and they have the right of way.
Riding a bike in Brussels is usually quite safe. Accidents are rare, and ninety per cent aren’t serious enough to even call an ambulance. But you can protect yourself by wearing a reflective vest and a helmet. For a while, you may feel foolish, but we think it’s better safe than sorry. And helmets could be a piece of art nowadays (look at CLOSCA or Thousands, for example). Consider these precaution measures seriously, particularly if you are a newbie on a bike still not familiar with all specificities of the city bike traffic.
Brussels is an ideal place for a bike, especially because aside from the hilly Ardennes region in the southeast, the country is relatively flat, with random hills. With an e-bike, you won’t even notice these hills and won’t break out into a muck sweat or have a heart attack at the end of the day.
For this mix of the mostly flat but hilly landscape, we created the BZEN Brussels model. As you can see, it’s not a coincidence that our bike has this name. BZEN Brussels provides a slight forward sitting position with the handlebar slightly curved, so you can still pull on your arms when you pedal. Thus it is easier to ride uphill and to feel comfortable and balanced when you are on the narrow street.
BZEN Brussels bike will give you the pleasure of getting around on two wheels. And a big part of this pleasure is the feeling that rather than burning fossil fuels to get home, you’re burning calories and generating endorphins, and you’re making the planet a better place.
Useful resources for bikers in Brussels: