Belgium's federal government recently launched Be Cyclist, its first ever action plan to promote cycling. Among the key measures announced are the expansion of allowances for employees who cycle to work, the establishment of new cycle paths and the creation of a central bicycle registry.
The action plan includes a total of 52 measures divided into three main categories: making it easier for as many people as possible to cycle, increasing the amount of safe infrastructure, and promoting cycling.
The federal government wants Belgians to commute using bicycles on a massive scale. Currently, more than 500,000 Belgian workers receive an allowance for commuting to work by bicycle, corresponding to a tax exemption of 24 cents per kilometer. The government hopes to extend this type of allowance to all companies in Belgium in the near future.
In terms of infrastructure, the government wants to invest heavily in new cycle routes, including the development of cycle paths along railway lines. The Belgian National Railway Company (SNCB) will implement an ambitious bicycle-train strategy, so that more people can use bicycles for their first or last kilometers. This could take the form of self-service bicycle stations near train stations, for example.
This plan also aims to combat bicycle theft. Every year, more than 30,000 bicycles are stolen in the country. The idea is to set up a central bicycle registry in order to stop the resale of stolen bicycles.
The action plan is to be fully implemented by the end of 2024. It should be noted that in addition to having a significant ecological impact, increasing the proportion of cycling among transport methods would also reduce traffic congestion, the annual cost of which is estimated at 2.3 billion euros.