Starting today, bicycles have priority in the city centre of Mechelen. All 179 streets located inside the city’s ring road – a total of 30 kilometres – are now cycle streets.

While other cities have cycle streets here and there, Mechelen is the first city in Belgium to roll out the concept across its entire city centre. Entry points into the centre are all clearly marked as cycle streets, which means that cyclists can ride anywhere on the street they want, and cars cannot overtake them.

“This means that cyclists determine traffic flow inside the city centre,” acting mayor Alexander Vandersmissen (Open VLD) told VRT. “The city is of course still accessible to motorists, but they do need to keep behind the cyclists.”

Cycling has ‘exploded’

The measure goes a long way to fulfilling Mechelen’s goal to be Flanders’ most bike-friendly city. “Cycling has really exploded in Mechelen,” said Vandersmissen. “Cyclists are already our biggest category of road user.”

Today was the first day of the new measure, and drivers did not seem too put out by it. “I think it’s a good idea,” one driver told VRT. “My daughter cycles here, so I’m happy about the measure.”

Another said that, while he approves of the regulation in principle, he hopes that cyclists don’t take advantage of it and ride very slowly “to prove they have the power”.

Outside of the ring road, there are three streets in Mechelen designated as cycle streets. Mechelen was also the first city in Flanders to enforce a 30kph maximum speed across its city centre.

Article originally published in Flanders Today

Written by Lisa Bradshaw