Brussels Cycling Community Thanks Terrorism
Today Brussels has a cycling community, and we should all thank terrorism for it. An interview with Brussels newest cycling Bar ‘Café Kring’ tells us a little bit more about how the citizens of Brussels reacted after their beloved hometown got pulled apart. Also about how the city finds itself in the midst of an ‘urban revival’ and how they are trying to get something positive out of a negative thing.
On March 22 2016 our city had been shredded to pieces, by men who had exchanged their ‘french-fries-filled-mitraillette’ for real ones. Several weeks after the attacks Brussels remained shocked. Not only did we experience an emotional breakdown, but also endured an enormous economical one. Brussels reacted to all the troubles with a project named: Make.Brussels. This project became a success: communities rose again as they had once risen. One of the winners of Make.Brussels encouraged people to go ride their bikes again ‘en masse’. So here we are today: Café Kring, the only café where you can just walk in to get a coffee, then walk out with a full-carbon frame. Chase interviews Charles, co-founder of Café Kring, and his regulars from Krème Brussels about the urban-cycling community.
How did you come up with the idea to open up a Bicycle/Coffee-shop?
Charles: "Actually I didn’t come up with it. This idea already exists in places like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona and other European cities, which we went to visit to conceive our own project. Cyclists wanted a place where we could feel at home, to relax and hang out, but also to talk about cycling and meet others who share the same interest. We wanted to be the first to create a meeting place for cyclists in Brussels, since we didn't have one yet."
And so, after you participated in Make.Brussels, what happened afterwards?
Charles: "We filled in the forms, introduced our project name to the list. A few months later we were chosen as the project for the Dansaert-region. They donated € 30.000 in subsidiary funds to start our project, and here we are. The only obligation we had, in exchange for getting those funds, was that our project needed to be up and running before December. It is now November, and we’ve been open since October. We quickly found other fundings.
What are those fundings?
Charles: "First of all, you need to know that we don’t get involved with a bank, which is our biggest strength, I guess. Second, we get our money from ‘public funding’, in this case: The Minister of Economy who oversees Make.Brussels, and the Minister of Mobility, Pascal Smet."
What’s your vision for this project?
Charles: "We want to make a community place, where people can go to and hang out, have a coffee or rent a bike. We want to be the rendez-vous for everyone who’s interested in cycling. Families and older people, everyone should ride a bike! We want to be available for everyone. That’s why, here in Kring, you can actually come in, grab a coffee and rent a bike for over 4 months. That way you can feel if it's the one for you. We believe that buying a bike shouldn’t be done in a hurry, bikes should become part of us and our lifestyle. We also would love to create a cycling mentality, which practically doesn’t exist in Brussels. This couldn’t be done without smaller groups like Krème. These guys are urban engineers!"
What is Krème Brussels?
Krème Brussels: "Krème Brussels is a Brussels based team of fixed-gear riders. What is fixed gear? It looks like a regular road-bike, except that you don’t have a freewheel nor brakes. You can’t stop pedalling, unless you are ‘skidding’, blocking your pedals until your back-wheel stops, which results in a complete stop of the bike, burning some rubber. But what do we do? Create events, group-rides bi-weekly, alleycat-races, and train younger fixie riders regularly. KB started as a group of high-school friends meeting weekly. Our growth shows the healthy mindset to go get yourself a bike and to stop using a car. Especially in Brussels. Traffic, constantly being stuck throughout the day, however consumers buy a €20,000 car. ‘Why is this?’ is the question within people’s minds."
So with projects as ‘Café Kring’ and ‘Krème Brussels’ you want to educate the citizens of Brussels that a bike is the new thing?
Charles: "Yes, exactly! We are organising events, including one with Minister Pascal Smet who will visit our shop for a debate and discuss a better mobility plan in Brussels. Also, famous Flemish cyclists are coming to ‘Kring’, like Eddy Merckx for instance."
Why is it that Brussels is the last city to open up to those ideas? Because Antwerp, Ghent, and other cities already have those kind of projects. Why is Brussels so late?
Charles: "I think that Brussels lacks a community spirit. In Antwerp and Ghent, cyclists recognize each other and there’s a community spirit that eventually resulted in those projects. They really wanted their own place to hang out in. In Brussels? There are two different sides of the problem: 1. There never was a cycling community, 2. People are frightened by cycling in Brussels.
The traffic is dangerous, or people perceive it as dangerous, and this eventually has the same result. Nobody rides their bike. Even cycling once a week, for fun, is not done in Brussels. Parents send their kids outside of the cities' borders to cycle, that’s why we want to create a popularity around cycling again. In Flanders, cyclists are heroes. Eddy Merckx, Van Avermaet, Tom Boonen,... They’re all Flemish. Does Brussels have famous cyclists? No, and maybe that’s part of the problem. Nobody can relate to cycling, it’s just not popular enough. That’s why we’ll also organise grouprides, like Krème Brussels, but with our Flemish cycling heroes, and as I mentioned before, Eddy Merckx will come to café Kring and ride with us!"
So how do you two groups/projects look to each other? Relate to each other?
Charles: "Krème Brussels surely is on the right side of history. I can already tell you now, that in the coming years Krème Brussels will expand like never before. This will make you feel so great about what you're doing right now, just be patient. I see you guys as the upcoming pioneers from Brussels. People like you guys, young people with a dream, are the future of western cities and urbanisation. I would even say, to some extent you are militants/activists. You guys are urban pioneers!"
Krème Brussels: "Since we've started riding, we've been waiting for a place like this! Instead of taking a break from cycling in the cold, we can come over here and meet other cyclists over a coffee. You meet new people, ride with new people,... This project is awesome! And I thinks it is safe to say that we’ll be here every weekend."
Thank you for this interview, it was really interesting! A lot of success with the projects.
All new articles
In primeur: bekijk de videoclip voor ‘Talking Backwards’ van JTOTHEC
JTOTHEC, de West-Vlaamse versie van Prince, speelde afgelopen vrijdag nog De Kreun in Kortrijk plat tijdens de releaseshow van de debuutplaat 'Somebody Had To Make This Record'. Nadat voorloper 'You Gotta Believe In You' meer dan vijftien weken lang in de A-rotatie op Radio 1 bleef, is het nu tijd...
JTOTHEC stelt track voor track zijn debuutplaat voor
West-Vlaming Jonas Casier draait al jarenlang mee in het Belgische funk-, soul- en hiphopcircuit. Eerst als tuntablist bij DJ Grazzhoppa's DJ Bigband, maar tegenwoordig ook met zijn eigen band: JTOTHEC (spreek uit als J to the C). Daar fungeert hij als frontman, bijgestaan door drie...
Listen to Roméo Elvis & Le Motel’s ‘Morale 2Luxe’ here
What can we say? Last year was, without a doubt, Roméo Elvis’ biggest year yet. The guy almost single-handedly brought Brussels’ blooming and booming rap scene into the mainstream and ended last year with no less than 5 Red Bull Elektropedia Awards. But Elvis is clearly not...
5 acts waarvoor je zeker naar Melt Festival in Duitsland moet
Waarom zou je in hemelsnaam op de trein, het vliegtuig, de bus of in de wagen springen om naar Melt festival in Duitsland te reizen? Wij selecteerden 5 acts die de moeite waard zijn om uit je luie zetel te klimmen en de reis naar het indrukwekkende Ferropolis terrein te maken...
Faffie: een jong kledingmerk om in de gaten te houden
Gent en creativiteit, het is al heel lang een match made in heaven. Wij hadden een babbel met Sofie Vandenbergh, een 22-jarige Aalsterse studente die nu al een tijdje in Gent woont. Ze combineert er haar studies met haar eigen kledingmerk en daarover mochten we haar...
WAWA, “we zijn allemaal jong en hongerig”
Wat kan je in Aalst nog meer vinden naast: mannen die zich drie dagen verkleden als oude vrouwen in combinatie met heel wat alcohol? Het antwoord is: heel wat jong talent! Eén van deze talenten die je zeker in de gaten moet houden, is de 17-jarige WAWA. Een...
5 Flemish YouTubers to keep an eye on
Youtube. It’s the perfect way to gather eternal fame on the internet these days. For the British and American creators, that is... We don’t see some Belgian kid becoming the next Logan Paul anytime soon, but never say never, because this country is full of talent!...
From Saint-Petersburg to Shanghai along the longest railway in the world.
According to American travelogue-ist Ian Frazier, Siberia is so big that it is almost more an idea than an actual place. European portrayal of the Orient is unmistakable fed by historical framing, ignorance and the fact that James Bond is always chasing a Lenin or Mao comrade. Intrigued by Chinese...
6 new Belgian Hip-Hop tracks you don’t want to miss
If you've been watching the skies the past week, you might have noticed there was exactly one day with actual refreshing sunlight. Those few rays of sun were just enough to inspire us for this list. Have a look, or should we say, have a listen. We present to...
Bird over zijn debuutalbum ‘Vogelvlucht’: “Blij dat ik zo lang gewacht heb om dit te droppen”
Toen Bird in 2014 'Klootzak met karakter' uitbracht onder SG Records, was dat onmiddelijk een schot in de roos. Ondertussen mogen we deze plaat als een Vlaamse rapklassieker beschouwen waarvan de teller al op bijna 200.000 plays staat, en het bezorgde hem de award van beste nieuwkomer op de Vlaamse Rap Awards....
Our 11 favourite Belgian hip hop tracks of 2017
This list is compiled by two members of the Chase music team. Raf Cyran, music producer, beatmaker and record label owner, and Mitchell Galle, owner of the Vlaams hip hop talent group, rapper and community manager for Red Bull Bekvechten, bring you their favourite Belgian tracks of the year. ...
Boeken drops video for ‘Wolven’ exclusively on Chase
Antwerp-based rapper Boeken is mostly known for his work at StraatWaarde and as co-founder of S.G. Records. He’s also a devoted freestyle MC, who recently took second place at the Red Bull Beckvechten battle. In 2014 he started collaborating with NoMoBS and...
DJ IDFX verzamelt West-Vlaamse ‘Kletsers & Klassiks’ op zijn nieuwe mixtape
David Carton – beter bekend als DJ IDFX – stichtte zo’n twintig jaar geleden samen met mc Herbie de West-Vlaamse hiphop-/reggaeband Pure Blend op. Sinds 2014 staat de groep op non-actief, maar IDFX laat nog dikwijls van zich horen. Tegenwoordig kennen we de Roeselarenaar vooral als admin van...