cycling in Brussels

Recently, the lovely Cassy nominated me for a Versatile Blog Award. I was really honoured to be remembered and included, especially since I’ve been more of a sporadic than a versatile blogger for the last year or so… There are some rules involved in the game, but I’m going to adapt them a bit and play in my own way. One of the rules is to tell seven things about yourself. Well, I’ll try to do this, in my own way: how about a versatile hodge-podge of things that have been keeping my heart, body and mind interested lately?

First, cycling. With the arrival of good weather, I’m not the only one who’s had cycling as a means of mobility on my mind lately. And I am proud to say that it’s been more than on my mind! Since 1 May, I’ve been on the public transportation (excluding trips outside the city) only a few times. Brussels has a wonderful city bike scheme, where you pay a small annual fee for which you can use city bikes, with stations interspersed around the central city districts, always for free for the first half an hour. And I have been using this scheme like a madwoman! I have been biking almost every day.

It’s not perfect. Brussels is very hilly. In theory, I knew this before. But only after I got on a bike did I really really understand it. But you know what? There is no better feeling than when you finally manage to get to the top of that one hill without thinking you are going to die. Except for the feeling when you do it again. And again. And the feeling when you realise that it’s no big deal anymore.

It is not perfect. The city bike scheme has its flaws, sometimes the bikes are not in the best shape, and at rush hour it can be difficult to find a bike (or find a place to drop one off when you reach your destination). But I don’t mind. If I don’t find a bike, I think “well that means lots of people are using them, and that’s great!” (And then I curse under my breath because I’m late for work, but let’s ignore that bit. ;) And sometimes my day is brightened by random acts of kindness, like a little note left on the bike saying “I don’t work well.”

It is not perfect. Brussels is not the most bike-friendly city in the world. Yet it is friendlier than many other places I’ve lived in. And getting on the bike has been the best decision I’ve made in a while.

This 19-minute film says some important things about Brussels, about cycling, and about traffic in general. It is also wonderfully made and shows this city and its various inhabitants in a loving, beautiful way. I absolutely adore it and have already seen it several times, I can’t stop myself. Whether you’re a cyclist or not, whether you live in Brussels or not, I think you will find it interesting. And please feel free to share your thoughts!

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About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

5 thoughts on “cycling in Brussels

  1. I’m an avid biker, too. We have public bikes similar to yours, but I always use my own. I had no idea that Madison was hilly until I started biking!

    Love the video – and your city. I was there in 1985 and would love to go back!

  2. I think it’s amazing that Brussels has that sort of bike system. I don’t think my town is large enough to support something like that, but it’s a fabulous idea.

  3. I try to use my bike whenever I can. My husband and I take part in Critical Mass rides here in Novi Sad and we enjoy them a lot!

  4. I loved the film, thanks for sharing!
    I live in a quite hilly city and haven’t had the courage to run a bike yet, but I keep thinking about it. Maybe sometime soon I’ will…

  5. when I lived in a city, I’d always get around by bicycle, now that I live in the country, I drive: isn’t it a bit of an irony?
    my sister in Milan uses a city bike to go to work, and then pick up her kids at daycare: they’re big heavy bicycles apparently (no hills in Milan though!), but the advantage is that they don’t get stolen!
    Happy cycling and happy summer Ivana!

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