"Oh well, I thought this was going to be easier!". This was my first thought when I arrived in Brussels and saw its crowded streets and the absence of bike lanes. As a southern european girl, coming from a country where almost no-one uses a bike in the cities, but having traveled thoroughly through central Europe and having fallen in love with the car free cities of The Netherlands, I had this idea that I was going to get a bike as soon as I arrived to Brussels to cycle to work everyday and to wander around in its parks and green areas during the weekend. After a week here, I have completly changed my mind.
Brussels is a city with lots of contruction work going on. And very crowded in the center, specially in the European Quarter and specially at rush hours. Which makes it impossiblefor me to do it, as such is precisely the area and the times of the day in which I was interested in cycling. Only some streets have bike lanes, most of them don't. And even if I could easily do a part of the way by bike, then, as I would approach the most crowded areas, it would be impossible to contour all these obstacles: construction works, cars and people. Aditionaly, it often rains here, so that adds another plus to the crashing of my dream. So, for now I'll just be a walker and a user of the public transportation and maybe on the weekends in some parks I'll try to cycle a bit.
However, I still see some adventurous ones who bike everyday and maybe if you're used to do it in your country, you would like to give it a try here as well. For that, you have 3 options:
- Buy your own bike. There's plenty of shops which sell them and you can try to find youserlf an used one for a cheaper price (I met a girl who bought hers for just 20€!). I've heard it's usual to have your bike stolen, though, so you may want to consider option number 2.
- Use the Villo! system. You have bike stations all over the city (always next to the metro stations and more) and for just 32€ a year you get a card at home to use all these bikes, being the first half an hour of use for free. If you use it for more than half an hour each time, a small rate is charged for any additional period of half an hour.
- If you're working in the Commission, you have access to Commission bikes for free! That's something they explain to you in the first days of presentations and it seems to be the best option.
So, either way, if you start this endeavour of cycling in Brussels, good luck and use a helmet! Don't blame me and the suggestions herewith for any possible injuries ;)