Videos

Navigating Europe's Most Congested City by Bike

If you think all European cities embrace cycling as much as Copenhagen, you must not be familiar with Brussels.

Image
"Brussels Express"

Cities in the United States are becoming more tolerant, even encouraging, of bicyclists through increased bike infrastructure, bikeshare programs, and laws to protect riders. But when you compare it with the world's best biking cities, there's a longing realization that we aren't Copenhagen, we aren't Amsterdam. We don't have cities where 55 percent of residents bike to work or school; where 90 percent of all roads are bicycle friendly. So it's good to be reminded that not all European cities are created equal when it come to love of the bicycle.

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is one of those cities. Traffic crawls through gridlocked streets and cyclists are considered fools for riding in such dangerous conditions. But, much as in the U.S., there's a growing movement to replace four wheels with two. Over the last few years, bicycle traffic in Brussels has increased from 1 percent to 4 percent, a small, but not insignificant increase.

Over at the The Atlantic's video channel, Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg points to a short documentary, Brussels Express, that explores this transformation through the lens of Karl-Heinz Pohl, a bike messenger.

With great shots of the city, along with cringe-worthy clips of Pohl slipping through bumper-to-bumper car traffic, the video looks at how Brussels, and other cities, can build a bike culture more like Copenhagen. It's well worth the 20-minute run-time.

About the Author