Cycling safely in Brussels: leave your headphones at home and catch an earworm

Each year more and more cyclists take the roads in Brussels. There has been a yearly increase of 13% in the number of cyclists, and this tendency is expected to continue in 2018 and 2019. In fact, the number of cyclists has more than doubled since 2005. The risk of accident has progressed a bit more slowly, suggesting that infrastructure development, cyclists’ behaviours and the awareness of drivers are improving.

Cyclists are however perceived to be somewhat reckless: running through red lights, sneaking through traffic or listening to music with headphones. Some of these behaviours are caused by lack of adequate infrastructure, but cycling with headphones on has always struck me as somewhat insane. Audible cues are a huge part of the input needed to cycle safely: even if you have the priority, if you have limited visibility then hearing a car coming would be the only way of avoiding it.



To fight this, Bike for Brussels has launched a campaign called Earworm to Go to sensitise cyclists. They have also prepared a Spotify playlist to get you inspired. You might also have seen some posters around town. In any case, the aim is to get cyclists thinking about how to cycle safely.



While it might seem obvious to some that cycling with headphones is not a good idea, it is common to walk and listen to music. From there to cycling and listening to music there is but a short distance, and it does not seem any more reckless than texting and driving which can be seen any day on Brussels’ roads. So, if you do cycle with headphones or know someone who does, this is a good way of engaging on this issue. And if you really cannot get a song out of your head to the point of despair, check out these tips to forget it.