Velo-city 2024
18-21 June 2024

Cycle with us


Velo-city host Ghent: Where cycling connects

The quirky city of Ghent is a cosy pocket-sized city with the energy of a metropolis and a top destination for cycling enthusiasts. Through people-focused urban planning, community engagement and a deep commitment to securing a liveable future, Ghent has become a place where cycling truly connects us all. From 18-21 June, the Belgian city will host the global cycling community for the annual world cycling summit. 

Gentians’s love for cycling is not only felt on the streets, but it is also mirrored in the official statistics. The city boasts a modal split of 34% for cyclists, a striking increase from 22% since 2012. Moreover, 61% of Ghent's residents choose sustainable modes of transport: walking, cycling, or public transport. The city's cycling infrastructure is expansive, at 411 km, with 185 km added since 2010. Key elements include 17,5 km of bicycle streets, 58 bicycle bridges and underpasses, all contributing to a reduction in car usage from 54% in 2012 to 40% in 2021. 

Change in the blink of an eye: The introduction of a circulation plan 

This remarkable transformation didn't happen by chance. When traffic counters revealed that nearly 40% of motorised traffic in the city centre of Ghent consisted of through traffic, the city decided to take action. With the implementation of an ambitious circulation plan in 2017 that prevents through traffic from entering the city centre, Ghent reclaimed public spaces for its residents, resulting in a more accessible, liveable and safer urban environment. 

The city centre was divided into six sections surrounding the restricted traffic area, which was expanded by 128% overnight. Travelling by car from one zone to another became impossible without using the inner ring road, thus preventing through-traffic by non-residents and discouraging short drives in favour of cycling and walking in the now low car-traffic urban environment. Most notably, although the planning took several years, the circulation plan was implemented over a single weekend: Traffic flow in approximately 80 streets changed, more than 2500 road signs were either removed or newly installed, and 14 locations in the city centre were permanently closed off to most motorised traffic. 

Following the introduction of the circulation plan the cycling modal split skyrocketed to about 35%, a goal the city aimed to achieve by 2030, reached 13 years early! 

Regional cycling network 

One of the cornerstones of Ghent's cycling success story is the city's regional cycling network, designed to cover the entire city and extend to its rural areas and the harbour. This network, aligned with Flanders' existing cycling highways and neighbouring cities' local networks, provides the foundation for upgrading and initiating new bike infrastructure projects, ensuring cycling accessibility for all. 

Bicycle streets 

Ghent has also pioneered the concept of bicycle streets, starting with the first-ever one in Belgium, called Visserij. Today, the city boasts 24 bicycle streets, totalling 14 km, where cyclists hold absolute priority and speed is limited to 30 km/h. Partly driven by the momentum of this initiative, bicycle streets were included in the official highway code in February 2012. 

Bicycle parking on public domain 

The city administration employs a neighbourhood-oriented approach to determine optimal locations for installing bicycle racks catering to both regular bicycles and cargo bikes. Instead of using arbitrary parameters to determine the location of bicycle parking, the administration invites citizens to provide their input on identifying the location of bicycle parking. Neighbourhood by neighbourhood, bicycle parking needs are identified, both through the input of inhabitants and objective on-street counts. An unused bicycle rack is a rare sight in Ghent. This fosters a stronger sense of community involvement and identification with the project, thereby minimising 'Not In My Backyard' (NIMBY) reactions when bicycle racks are installed.  

Since 2015, approximately 8,500 bicycle parking spaces were installed on the streets of Ghent through this neighbourhood-oriented approach, repurposing around 450 car parking spaces.  


Embracing shared mobility 

Ghent's commitment to optimal space usage and sustainability also extends to shared mobility. With four sharing providers, Ghent offers shared bicycles for every occasion: 263 Blue-Bikes for bridging the distance between train station and the end destination, 550 hub-based Donkey Republic bikes, 400 electric Bolt bikes, 600 electric bikes provided by Dott and 20 cargo bikes provided by its subcontractor BAQME. The shared bikes are strategically placed in the city centre as well as in the suburbs. Moreover, De Fietsambassade Gent, the cycling embassy of Ghent, offers the opportunity to rent a variety of different bikes, from e-bikes to cargo bikes, from folding bike to adapted bike.  


Ghent’s cycling culture 

Ghent has put the bike on a pedestal for many years and this is reflected in the city’s quirky cycling culture. Get a feel for it in the video below.  

Velo-city 2024 Ghent 

The main theme for Velo-city Ghent 2024, "Connecting Through Cycling," mirrors the city's essence. The bicycle connects places, people, different modes of transport and sectors. Ghent's transformative journey, driven by initiatives such as the circulation plan, the regional cycling network and a variety of shared mobility options has not only made it a cycling paradise but also a shining example of how cycling serves as a connector.   

Velo-city 2024 will be the perfect opportunity to explore the ancient City of Ghent. As Belgium's third largest city, Ghent invites you to step into the footsteps of a 1000-year-old heritage. Quirky, lively, and culturally rich, Ghent offers an enticing blend of trendy modernity and historical charm. It's a place where people savour life, embracing a laid-back atmosphere where anything is possible and a genuine human connection is felt. You won’t have a dull moment at Velo-city 2024 Ghent!