Tour traffic chaos in Brussels: "Avoid the capital by car"

The Tour de France has arrived at the capital and will stay for four days, as part of the "Grand Départ" of the world's biggest cycling event. This can cause long traffic jams; local authorities and police are calling on people to avoid going to Brussels by car and opt for alternatives such as the train, metro and the bicycle. The event kicks off today with a parade of the participating teams through the capital, and their presentation on the iconic Grand Place. 

The Tour de France is coming to town and it's going to stay... for four days. Tour organisers ASO granted Brussels this "Grand Départ" to honour cycling legend Eddy Merckx, who won his first Tour de France in style 50 years ago, in 1969. 

However, while the world's biggest cycling event will attract hundreds of thousands of cycling enthusiasts and bring a festival atmosphere to the capital, it will also create mobility problems.  

Plenty of alternatives for the car: extra trains, trams, buses and metros

Brussel Mobiliteit, the Brussels Mobility organisation, is advising to look for alternatives for the car, if you have to be in Brussels. The first tailbacks were seen this morning in the Laken area, where the arrival zone of the first stage (Saturday) and the team time trial (on Sunday) are being built.

The Koninklijke Parklaan at the A12 Motorway has been closed for all traffic since 6AM (and this will remain so until Sunday) causing long tailbacks on the Van Praetlaan, an important lane to enter the capital from the north, and the A12. More roads will be closed later today, and on Saturday and Sunday. 

MIVB offers free rides this weekend

There are alternatives galore, such as the train. The Belgian Rail company NMBS will boost rail services to the capital, with 40 extra trains. If you come during the weekend, you can enjoy tickets at half price, and a reduced parking fee at the station where you leave your car behind in Wallonia or Flanders. Click here for more tips on the website of Brussel Mobiliteit

Meanwhile the Brussels public transport company MIVB/STIB will stage extra buses, trams and metros. The latter will be free of charge next weekend. But beware that some bus or tram lines may be adapted due to the Tour de France. If you want an original way to enter Brussels, then the water bus departing from Vilvoorde may be just your cup of tea. The boat has stops in Neder-over-Heembeek, Laken, Molenbeek and central Brussels; there will be extra services during the weekend. Having arrived in the city, you may also want to try bicycle-sharing systems or steps.  

To cover short distances in Brussels, walking may of course also be an option: the Met Office is expecting a series of dry and sunny days, with moderate temperatures. The photo below shows the route that the different teams will follow for their entry today. 

If you would come by car after all, check which parking lots are open and which are closed, and check carefully which roads are closed. 

Nicolas Maeterlinck
Nicolas Maeterlinck

Top stories