If you passed on the Nationale 4 this Saturday, you may have come across a peloton of several dozen cyclists. It was an action of Gracq, the association which defends the use of the bicycle on a daily basis. A first group left from Namur, a second from Wavre, to meet halfway in Gembloux. The objective of this walk: to denounce the lack of development along the Nationale 4 for bicycles.
Next to cars
Departing from Namur, there are dozens of cyclists to support the claim.
This is the case of this young father who would like to be able to take the Nationale 4 in complete safety. “There are cycle paths that are relatively beautiful but motorists go fast, this is a real danger especially with the little one”. “I don’t feel comfortable in many places”, Michelle confirms.
On the busy road, the speed is sometimes limited to 90 km / h. However, the cycle path, when it exists, is most often simply painted in paint, on the tarmac. “There is a small cycle path, supports Rachelle Vafidis, alderman for mobility at La Bruyère, but when we find ourselves on a national road on which people are driving at 90 km / hour, or even more in certain places, we do not feel safe on our lane of 1.20m “.
“It’s stressful, we fear being brushed against by vehicles”, adds Luc Goffinet, spokesman for the Gracq.
Le Gracq therefore requires a bicycle lane on its own site, separated from traffic. A homogeneous corridor too, which goes from Namur to Wavre, passing through Gembloux and Louvain-La-Neuve. All the more so since all the municipalities crossed by the project have been pilot “Wallonia cyclable” municipalities since 2021.
Connect to work and shops by bike
A separate cycle path … and in good condition. Because between Namur and Gembloux for example, the infrastructure is on a clean site but not well maintained, which slows down a good number of cyclists. As here at Rhisnes:
“Look, this is an old concrete cycle path here. But the concrete has lived through a lot and it has become less and less comfortable to ride, described by Luc Goffinet. Vegetation now covers part of the route. In some places, we put in asphalt as a patch but it was not maintained, so we end up with an obstacle course that makes the cyclists stay on the road “.
According to the Gracq, many people would like to reach their workplace by bicycle. “We are here on an axis on which there are economic, commercial and employment areas and we would like to access them by bicycle in complete safety”, explains Luc Goffinet du Gracq.
Several projects are in the works of the Walloon government, recalled the Minister of Mobility Philippe Henry on Twitter. The Mobility and Infrastructures Plan for All 2020-2026 provides for a budget for bicycle corridors. Two studies will be launched concerning the Namur-Gembloux and Gembloux-Louvain-la-Neuve sections.
???? ♀️ Return to yesterday’s committee on the N4 bicycle corridors project between LLN and Namur. The section between Namur and Gembloux could materialize by 2023, before the Gembloux-LLN section which could be completed in a second phase. pic.twitter.com/QG1SGy07It
— Philippe Henry (@phh_Henry) June 8, 2021
For the Gracq, it would be necessary to study the section as a whole. Otherwise, the projects risk coming out of the ground in several years.
“For a long time, the policy of the Walloon region in terms of bicycle development was leisure cycling. We did 1,500 kilometers from Ravel which are pleasant to take but very little has been done to develop functional routes”, if Luc Goffinet remembers. “In the minds of some political decision-makers, the bicycle was not a ‘normal’ means of transport to go to work. Even if you put extra effort, you are still quite behind compared to Brussels or Flanders” .