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Brussels goes car-free for the day as royal family joins in two-wheeled festival

Belgian capital given over to riders, bladers and walkers

Belgian capital Brussels celebrated its twelfth annual car-free Sunday yesterday.

The city centre was closed to motor vehicles between 7am and 7pm as the culmination of ‘mobility week’, which aimed to promote alternatives to car use, according to Le Soir.

The car-free day was a success and attracted thousands of visitors to taste the joys of cycling, skating or even walking in the streets of the capital, according to the Brussels Secretary of State for Mobility, Bruno De Lille.

However, there was one hiccup, or collection of hiccups. Ambulances were called out to treat more minor falls and sprains among cyclists than on a regular Sunday. The usual average is 250 calls; on Sunday there were 350.

Our French is rusty to say the least, but it certainly looks like most of the people in the first of these two videos were having a good time, and local TV even resisted the temptation to find an irate taxi driver to interview.

In this second video, though, a few drivers unable to get into Brussels do seem to be getting a bit impatient.

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Still, the day had royal blessing, with King Phillippe and Queen Mathilde taking to the streets by bike with their four children:

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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