Belgium

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Mitten
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Belgium

Postby Mitten » 1 Jun 2018, 5:05pm

Hello,

I'm new to this forum so go easy on me if I say something stupid.....but have a question regarding route planning.

I'm organising a trip for early July; Dunkirk-Ostende-Bruges-Ghent-Antwerp-Brussels (Eurostar back).

The year before last I did London - Paris using print outs of the Avenue Verte but found that quite difficult at times.

What would be the best way to plan the route in Belgium ? I heard the cycle paths are pretty easy to use, so should I just follow a map ?

A couple of my group have the high end Garmins, so is there a webiste I can find the routes to add to Garmin ?......but I read online that Garmin wont differentiate between cycle paths and roads....is this nonsense ?

Also, if anyones been on this route and has advice on riding in this part of Belgium, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Guys......

-Ricky.

Vorpal
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Re: Belgium

Postby Vorpal » 1 Jun 2018, 5:31pm

Looks like a great route.

I've generally found cycle routes/paths to be relatively easy to follow between cities, but I've missed my way a time or two in cities.

I've only ever used maps and signs, and occasionally asking direction.

This thread viewtopic.php?f=16&t=108632&hilit=belgium links to some others about cycling in Belgium, including links to sites with route and mapping information. I've really enjoyed cycling Belgium, and recommend using canal paths, when you can.
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simonhill
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Re: Belgium

Postby simonhill » 1 Jun 2018, 5:34pm

I rode most of the route a few years ago, bar Antwerp, when riding to visit a friend working in Brussels.

All I had was a Michelin yellow map 1/200 000. No problem. If I came across a cycle path and it went the right way, I rode it, but didn't specifically plan for them. This suited my 'point and go' style of touring, but won't suit all/most/many.

I'm sure plenty of far more detailed and hi tech solutions will follow.

Enjoy.

Bogawski
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Re: Belgium

Postby Bogawski » 1 Jun 2018, 7:54pm

Interesting place to stay in Ghent is the Poortackere Monesterium Hotel, an old monastery in the centre of town. You get a "cell" for the night all very civilised. Belgium folks are friendly and speak English.

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mjr
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Re: Belgium

Postby mjr » 1 Jun 2018, 8:15pm

Mitten wrote:I'm organising a trip for early July; Dunkirk-Ostende-Bruges-Ghent-Antwerp-Brussels (Eurostar back).

The year before last I did London - Paris using print outs of the Avenue Verte but found that quite difficult at times.

What would be the best way to plan the route in Belgium ? I heard the cycle paths are pretty easy to use, so should I just follow a map ?

A couple of my group have the high end Garmins, so is there a webiste I can find the routes to add to Garmin ?......but I read online that Garmin wont differentiate between cycle paths and roads....is this nonsense ?

Also, if anyones been on this route and has advice on riding in this part of Belgium, that would be greatly appreciated.

Use the cycleways, follow the junction numbers, LF routes or FS routes, don't expect other signs to be consistent, keep right and look left before moving left, signal, signal, signal. Oh and you won't be able to avoid motorists giving way to you!

Dunkirk-Ostende http://cycle.travel/map/journey/55610 (beware the centre of Dunkirk which is a building site for the next year with roads being remodelled. It'll probably be great when it's done but it's confusing last month).
On to -Bruges http://cycle.travel/map/journey/39920 (ignore the first bit)
On to Ghent is basically LF5 (reverse this link) http://cycle.travel/map/journey/64969
Then you're doing routes I've not ridden. :-)

Load those into your garmins or osmand~ on a phone. If you follow a map, get a recent (2017-) one with junction numbers on.
Last edited by mjr on 1 Jun 2018, 8:16pm, edited 1 time in total.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Graham
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Re: Belgium

Postby Graham » 1 Jun 2018, 8:16pm

If you don't know this already - in Belgium, where there is any sort of cycle facility distinct from the main vehicle carriageway you MUST use the facility provided.
If you do not comply with this obligation, you will be rapidly enlightened by some angry, local motorist(s).

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mjr
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Re: Belgium

Postby mjr » 1 Jun 2018, 8:17pm

Graham wrote:If you don't know this already - in Belgium, where there is any sort of cycle facility distinct from the main vehicle carriageway you MUST use the facility provided.
If you do not comply with this obligation, you will be rapidly enlightened by some angry, local motorist(s).

Didn't happen at all this year and I failed to spot the entrances to some. Everyone seemed pretty relaxed about bikes except the tram drivers.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Graham
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Re: Belgium

Postby Graham » 1 Jun 2018, 8:24pm

My experiences were nearly 20 years ago and I was confined to the Brussels area. Hopefully, things have changed, but be aware that I am stating the legal requirement.
Try a web search on Belgium cycling laws.

jacksonz
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Re: Belgium

Postby jacksonz » 2 Jun 2018, 7:55am

Grab a GPX track from https://www.biroto.eu/en/find-cycle-routes-and-tours-on-map. I think there is one close to your plan.
You can see all the bike tracks here https://www.opencyclemap.org/
You can add a custom GPX track to a Garmin and yes you can see bicycle tracks clearly on the Garmin if they appear on the source map. Meaning, use a bicycle dedicated map like OSM http://www.openfietsmap.nl/

In fact, if you want to design your own route you can use Qlandkarte GT or Qmapshack. Use the online map in the first link as a base and draw your route over the indicated bicycle track.......

Will
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Re: Belgium

Postby Will » 3 Jun 2018, 1:18pm

There are a number of canals/rivers in that part of Belgium that have quiet roads or cyclepaths running along side them:

You could follow the Gent-Brugge-Oostende canal to get from Ostend to Bruges.
You could follow the Gent-Brugge canal to get from Bruges to Ghent.
You could follow the River Schelde to get from Ghent to Antwep. The river meanders quite a bit, so the distance is longer than taking a more direct route.
You could follow the River Schelde south to where it joins the Zeekanaal-Brussel-Schelde, and then follow it down to Brussels.

You can view many of the roads/cycle paths that run along the canals/rivers on Google Streetview.

iandriver
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Re: Belgium

Postby iandriver » 3 Jun 2018, 6:59pm

Will wrote:There are a number of canals/rivers in that part of Belgium that have quiet roads or cyclepaths running along side them:

You could follow the Gent-Brugge-Oostende canal to get from Ostend to Bruges.
You could follow the Gent-Brugge canal to get from Bruges to Ghent..

+1 for this. Exactly what I did last year. Was quiet and easy. GPS tracks available if you want a closer look.
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

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mjr
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Re: Belgium

Postby mjr » 3 Jun 2018, 11:36pm

Graham wrote:My experiences were nearly 20 years ago and I was confined to the Brussels area. Hopefully, things have changed, but be aware that I am stating the legal requirement.
Try a web search on Belgium cycling laws.

Yes, it's been linked from here before. I think it's wrong it's a legal requirement in most situations (there are exceptions) but I'd choose to use 99% of them anyway so it's not much of a problem to me. They seem far better than almost all in the UK with a consistency and pervasiveness it'll take decades to achieve if we started in a way we're unlikely to. Even a stretch with warning signs about the poor state of the track (the Leireken between Opwijk and Aalst) was in better condition than most UK cycleways!

But as I wrote, when I did miss the access onto a cycleway, there was no rebuke. Brussels may be more abusive than Leuven, Mechelen, Ghent, Bruges and so on, but they were all fine. In six days, we suffered only two close passes and no abuse, which was far outweighed by loads of motorists giving way even when they had priority. Then we come back to England and grow old waiting to cross the road in Dover...
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hamster
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Re: Belgium

Postby hamster » 4 Jun 2018, 11:21am

Flanders uses the Knooppunkt nodal system like the NL, very simple. See below:
http://www.fietsroute.org/cycle-node-planner

I used it for a mini-tour / business trip between Lille and Ghent in April.

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mjr
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Re: Belgium

Postby mjr » 4 Jun 2018, 12:10pm

hamster wrote:Flanders uses the Knooppunkt nodal system like the NL, very simple. See below:
http://www.fietsroute.org/cycle-node-planner

I used it for a mini-tour / business trip between Lille and Ghent in April.

While it's great for sightseeing, it's unlike NL that there are often pretty good shortcuts not on the node/junction numbering system, especially if you want to cruise at speed - like Bruges-Torhout along the Torhoutsesteenweg N32 is 11 miles instead of 12½ following nodes and you don't have to turn for so many junctions. There are long stretches of LF route which don't have node numbers, too.

http://cycle.travel/map will find many of these, but it is slightly keen on the nodes and sometimes needs a nudge, similar to London (where it's far too keen on the London Cycle Network + IMO).
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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roubaixtuesday
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Re: Belgium

Postby roubaixtuesday » 4 Jun 2018, 12:56pm

Did a tour a coupe of years ago and bought some cycling specifics maps by Sportoena.

I would advise avoiding those. Poor quality construction, poor detail and misleading in places too.