Brussels Ring: bicycle highway and tunnel along the R22

The F202 bicycle highway along the R22 (Woluwedal) in Zaventem is one of the priority projects in the redevelopment of the Brussels Ring (R0). This ensures a strong improvement of mobility in the Brussels Periphery (Flemish Rim). Sweco is part of the Temporary Association MoVeR0, which is steering these works in the right direction. The Werkvennootschap is the client.

FACTS

Client: De Werkvennootschap

Engineering firm: THV MoVeR0 (Sweco - Arcadis)

Location: Zaventem

Period: 2017 – 2018, implementation in 2019

Services: spatial design, ecology, stability, infrastructure, permit

Partners: MINT, Zwarts & Jansma Architects, CLUSTER landscape+urban planning and Frank Van Hulle

The objective of Sweco's study is the realization of the F202 bicycle highway, along the R22, with excellent facilities to meet the expectations and needs of cyclists. Currently, the route is not fully equipped with high-quality cycling infrastructure. The cycle traffic is usually mixed on roads parallel to and at a limited distance from the R22.

Transformation into a fully-fledged bicycle highway.
The interventions proposed must contribute to the realization of a sustainable modal split. This objective requires attractive facilities with an ‘engaging character' to persuade people to use the bike more often. Because we are estimating the future number of cyclists as being high, a high bicycle capacity must also be calculated in for them. The interventions comply as far as possible with the guidelines from the bicycle facilities’ vademecum, with special attention to the aforementioned engaging character and the high capacity. This justifies the fact that the existing cycle path, which was partly redeveloped recently, is being upgraded to a bicycle highway. This requires a redesign of the existing public domain. The works will result in a clearer structure of the various traffic facilities and a better separation of the different types of road users. The bicycle highway will have a constant width and a uniform profile over the entire length.

Blending in with the landscape
The bicycle highway is situated in a valuable landscape environment with a strong identity, namely the Woluwe Valley. This valley begins in Watermael-Boitsfort and continues through the Brussels Region to the Flemish Region, along by Kraainem, Zaventem and Machelen. This source-rich area, which is extremely flood-prone, is characterized by the strong presence of the river Woluwe. The landscape design of the bicycle highway responds to these characteristics. Sweco was looking for a constant visual relationship between the cycle path and the Woluwe as a guide through the whole. In addition, you experience different landscapes throughout the route. The transition from open fields to closed urban fabrics gives diversity to the whole. We are responding to this diversity through a number of balanced design interventions. For example, in the urban fabric we opted for an open character of the cycle path, and in the open fields or other green spaces we adapted it more to rows of trees.

Bicycle tunnel
At the intersection with the busy Leuvensesteenweg we opted for a flyover in the form of a bicycle tunnel. However, the underground Woluwe duct at this location leaves little room for a bicycle tunnel. Thanks to detailed spatial and technical research, we arrived at a creative solution that made this passage possible. Specific care was also given to the design and materialisation of the bicycle tunnel. The walls of the tunnel slopes fan outwards on the eastern side. This gives the tunnel a softer shape, allowing it to integrate better into the natural, green surroundings of the valley landscape. At the same time, the 'open-fanning' of the walls creates a more open and spacious feeling for the cyclists. The design therefore responds to spatial and landscape integration as well as user comfort. We opted for wood for the finishing of the tunnel sidewalls. This choice of materials promotes the landscape integration of the structure and increases the experiential value for the cyclists.

Visuals: © THV MoVeR0