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A beginner's guide to cycling in Brussels

Cycling is very popular in Belgium. In Brussels, it’s a mobility option that’s begun to be encouraged in earnest.

There are a number of Regional Cycling Itineraries under development in the capital, as well as a campaign to encourage more citizens to choose biking for their daily commute. Bikes can be taken on metros and trams, but they are forbidden on weekdays at peak times (7.00-9.00 and 16.00-18.00).

For those looking to buy their own bike, Decathlon and Carrefour supermarket offer the best value for money, though there are plenty of other independent bike dealers. Ciclissimo in the Montgomery area, which also offers bike fittings, has been around for 25 years. VéloSofiets offers second-hand and recycled bikes, as do CyCLO and Bike Paradise at Petit Riens as well as many of Brussels flea markets.

A number of non-profit associations support the adoption of cycling; one, called Gracq, offers half-day training courses in the essentials on traffic rules and safety tips for cycling in the city. Bike Experience is an annual event that gives drivers the opportunity to try biking for two weeks, while Bruxelles Mobilité/Brussel Mobiliteit publishes a handy cycling map of the city. Biker2biker is a forum for experienced cyclists to give advice and support to novices.

A good lock for your bike is a must. In the Brussels region, you can get your bike engraved with your national identification number. This service is performed free on designated dates at police stations and communes, as well as at ProVelo stations and the bike points or workshop operated by Cyclo. Report stolen bikes to the police. You might want to keep an eye out for your bike at the local second-hand shops, in the online classified ads, or at Sunday's Midi market in Brussels. You can share your story on byebyebicycle.wordpress.com.

In Belgium, safety helmets are not compulsory, though they are recommended. Bikes must be equipped with a white light at the front, a red light at the back and yellow or orange reflectors on the wheels and pedals, and itís mandatory to keep your lights on at night.

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