Cycling in Belgium

Cycling with the cycle route interchange network

I love the Cycle Route Interchange Network. If you’ve never tried it, you should. As far as I know, it applies only to Flanders at the moment and you can check it out here. In Wallonia they have this different system (if you have used their network, let me know what you think).

"You are approaching interchange 20"

The basic idea of the Cycle Route Interchange Network is simple. It allows you to cycle from one numbered interchange to the next one. At each interchange a green and white signpost points you in the direction of the next interchange. This leads to a much more flexible way of cycling around the countryside than by following stipulated routes. Now you can mix and match to create your own cycle route. You don’t even need a map.

Obviously before you set out, a little preparation is necessary. Go on Fietsnet, decide on your starting point and simply click the interchanges that you want to pass through. The distance is automatically calculated. Write down the numbers of the interchanges on a bit of paper, tape it to your handlebars and off you go. (However, I do recommend taking a map of the area, just in case).

... and this is the way to interchange 78

All the routes I have done are excellent, and have taken me along country lanes, farm tracks, riversides and car-free cycle paths. Sometimes in village centres I had to search for the signposts, whereas in the open countryside they are more visible. What’s also great is that a lot of cycle-friendly cafés are along the routes, with bike racks, cycle maps, cycle repair kits and first aid kits should you have taken a tumble.

So what’s my favourite route? Well I love cycling along the Belgian canals, mainly because you won’t meet any hills, and very few cars. So from my home I follow interchanges 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38 and 93 which takes me into Leuven, and then I head north-west along the canal through junctions 31, 32, 28, 97, 20 … all the way to Mechelen and beyond, eventually reaching the Zennegat.

What’s your favourite route? Drop me a line and I’ll add a post. In a future post I’ll show you how to use the network to cycle out of Brussels.

5 comments on “Cycling with the cycle route interchange network

  1. Excellent facts! I have already been searching for something similar to this for some time now. Thanks for the tips!

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  2. Hello,

    I love the Cycle Route Interchange Network, I try cycling along as often as I can. I’ve cycled a few times from Brussels to Leuven, Mechelen, Halle and once I got close to Dendermonde. These are some of my usual routes:
    http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/fullscreen/35374548/
    http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/fullscreen/24123342/
    http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/fullscreen/17732542/
    The most difficult for me was this one:
    http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/fullscreen/19797500/
    I have a few routes to join the network from Brussels, the one I use the most is from Roodebeek metro station along the Avenue de Woluwe all the way to Zaventem.

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    • Thanks for your comment Mihai, and for the great routes. What’s it like cycling through Leuven? I tend to avoid the major towns as the route markers are often difficult to see. And why was the last one the most difficult? Was it because of the distance or the traffic?

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      • In Leuven, coming from Bertem, between interchanges 77 and 33 there is a very well marked route passing right through the city center (from the cathedral there are in fact two routes towards interchange 33, one going to the canal the other to the railway station). You have no problem seeing the signage, except right around the center where there are a lot of people, but you can stop and eat in the Oude Markt (the last time I was there there were quite a lot of people cycling from Brussels who stopped for a bite).
        The last route, towards Dendermonde, was difficult for me because it was a little bit long and I got lost a few times due to some roadworks and some bad signage. Besides that I had to take some shortcuts as the network routes are making sometimes some loops that are quite annoying when doing long tours.

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