The Brussels Bike Hundred

100 portraits, stories and bicycles

We’re teaming up with Bike for Brussels to put together a 100-strong selection of local heroes shaping the city each in their own way. From designers and DJs to performers and publishers, these are the creatives riding Brussels forward.

Florent Verstraeten & Céline Ruyssen

Florent Verstraeten & Céline Ruyssen, 1985

co-founders at Vrak and Tandem

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

We are a couple, both creative bicycle enthusiasts – Florent is city guide and Céline used to give DIY workshops. Together we founded VRAK, a label selling Brussels-related goodies, and TANDEM, a bicycle café that opened two pop-ups during the summers 2017 and 2018. We started with these ephemeral cafés to put our project and ourselves to the test, and our aim is to open a permanent place in 2019.

How has Brussels shaped you as an individual as well as your professional activities?

Florent was born and raised in Brussels while Céline arrived in Brussels after meeting Florent. However, we share the same love for our city. Our entire projects are closely connected to and inspired by Brussels. We want to be a part this movement of reclaiming our city and our streets and improve our lives in this city, which has been overlooked for too long.

Once you go bike, you never come back!

List three things you like the most about Brussels.

  • Everything you need is within cycling distance.
  • Cycling when car traffic is low, in other words when you come across roadwork, pedestrian areas, quiet streets, or if you cycle at night and on the weekends.
  • Brussels is slowly but surely improving with new cycle lanes, tramlines, car-free squares, etc. However, we think the best is yet to come. All we need is more political courage and citizen support.

List three deciding factors that converted you to bicycle use.

  • Public transport is not fast enough: once you go bike, you never come back, except when you’re really too tired.
  • Cargo bike: we bought a cargo bike to take our children with us – and many other things – and this was essential to allow us to keep living without a car.
  • Your cycle journey might not always be all rosy but most of the time, it brings you unexpected joys or surprises.

List three favourite bike routes in Brussels.

    • The cycle lane between Porte de Ninove/Ninoofsepoort and Midi Station, because it’s a taste of what the inner ring will be.
    • The canal route, because it’s the only long and almost finished cycle path.
    • The Promenade Verte/Groene Wandeling: 63 km of green, quietness, parks, architecture, fields and heritage.
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