Mobility Day and still cycling has a long way to go

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Car and cyclists in a bicycle safety zone

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Bike zone and bike lane remain secondary spaces for cyclists all across Brussels. This was Mobility Day in Brussels.

As European Mobility Week begins, I joined in the bicycle tour of the European Parliament area, complete with the obligatory Members of the European Parliament and their photographers. And, if you were not looking, there were enough signs as to why cycling will have to struggle to get maximum numbers on the road. 

As we wound our way through the handful of city blocks, about 30 people in the group, we came across narrowed bicycle lanes, occupied by cars making passage increasingly difficult.

And the bicycle zone at the red lights with cars using the space, instead of leaving it free for the approaching cyclists.

Or the bicycle path squeezed so tight with cars that most cyclists were forced to ride in the split between the two lanes of traffic.

This simply is the predicament for cyclists in the city. I live in the city centre area, the European Parliament in one of the better prepared areas, but the situation is remarkably similar.

Cycling advocacy constantly tells us that it is a minuscule percentage of drivers who are aggressive towards cyclists. That most drivers are kind and considerate.

I have a rather different point of view. That passive obstruction to cycling is an equal threat to making the roads unsafe, worrying potential cyclists who see the conditions and retreat to their cars, or, if possible, public transport.

The percentage gets far larger, very quickly. Not so minuscule any more.

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