Gent harbour potential for increased bicycle use
Over 28,000 people work in the Gent harbour area, among others at Volvo Cars and Arcelor Mittal. A mere 9 per cent cycle to work at the moment. That number should increase, according to harbour authorities and the Flemish Minister for Mobility, Kathleen Van Brempt.
New measures are stimulated by means of the Pendelfonds. The Flemish Pendelfonds contains some dozen projects a year that are financed for 50 per cent by the Pendelfonds. This year some 4,2 million Euro will be spent on 12 projects, among them a mobility project for the Gent harbour area. Research has shown currently 9 per cent cycles to work, with 20 per cent cycling occasionally. Most employees (85 per cent) commute by car, only one or two people use public transport. Yet a quarter of all employees live within 10 kilometres. One of the challenges will be turning the group of occasional cyclists into regular cyclists. The most important reasons not to use the bicycle are distance and weather, research has shown. For the group living within 10 kilometres from work the most important reason - apart from weather conditions - is unsafe bicycle routes. Other major arguments against cycling include a combination with shopping and collecting the children. Yet 19 per cent of employees currently not cycling is willing to do so in future if cycling is made more attractive. And 28 per cent is willing to consider this. Part of the objections can be met by well-developed bicycle infrastructure and better parking facilities. Weather conditions will play a smaller part if employees may park their bicycles under cover, hang their (wet) clothes out to dry and if desired take a shower before starting work, the harbour authorities expect and will therefore aim at. Measures also include appointing a mobility manager and improving public transport. The Max Mobiel organisation is already running a bicycle shuttle project in Gent. Employees may rent a red shuttle bicycle at the station’s Fietspunt. In this way the route from Gent Sint-Pieters station to work may be cycled. Currently this is used on a modest scale.