Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I was born and raised in Brussels and work as a typo/calligrapher. I design letters and fonts mostly by hand so that they can be used as logos, posters, murals and whatnot. Prior to that, I founded the bike courier company Hush Rush in 2011, which I left to my partner after six years. It still continues to run and grow to this day.
How has Brussels shaped you as an individual as well as your professional activities?
I grew up in northwest Brussels, mostly in Jette and Ganshoren. I was more of an introvert as a kid, so it was only once I turned 18 and attended a university next to Grand Place that I really got to discover Brussels’ city centre and a whole different way of living. Since then, I’ve moved around a handful of times in different communes, so I think I feel its pulse and how things are done differently in these communes. Of course, working as a bike messenger for several years doesn’t leave much left to discover. Brussels and I are in a long-term relationship: we don’t talk much but there is plenty of complicity.
Brussels and I are in a long-term relationship: we don’t talk much but there is plenty of complicity.
What do you like the most about Brussels?
- Its night shops: it’s a luxury to be able to buy almost anything at any time. Something you only come to appreciate when you’re travelling and are unable to buy a beer after 22h.
- Its tiny size: it might not feel small, especially when you’re waiting for a bus or are stuck in traffic (in which case, you are the traffic). When crossing the city by bike however, you can discover so many different atmospheres in just a few pedal strokes. A mere 15-minute cycle from Bourse / Beurs and you’re in a totally different environment.
What are the deciding factors that converted you to bicycle use.
I started city cycling around a decade ago. I had a long commute to work – from Etterbeek to Sint-Pieters-Leeuw – which took approximately an hour on public transport, with three changes and a little prayer that they’ll all be on time. So I bought a 20-euro bike and brought it back home on foot from Berchem-Saint-Agathe / Sint-Agatha-Berchem, because it had a flat tyre, was my first bike and I didn’t really know what was going on. When I first tried to ride it on a sunny day, I had a revelation: the trip was just as long, if not shorter, and I got to be outdoors and have fun. So I guess the first deciding factor was time. Then comes exercise, as I enjoyed my little riding session every morning, making me much more peaceful, appeased and stress-resistant for the rest of the day. And the third factor is eco-consciousness: ever since I was a (nerdy) kid, I’ve read magazines and watched documentaries that has made me very conscious about taking care of our planet. As a teenager, I did have an interest in big, beautiful cars, but that faded out a long time ago. And of course, there’s also the money aspect.
List three favourite bike routes in Brussels.
- The canal: it starts in Brussels but can lead you anywhere. Head north and you’ll reach Antwerp, south towards Mons or Charleroi. It’s always flat and almost pothole-free, depending on which direction you go. Stay alert on windy days though, because the wind might decide which way you go for you.
- Rue des Trois Tilleuls / Drie Lindenstraat: it’s one of Brussels’ best climbs. Not the hardest, but definitely long enough, with a distance of around 500m. It’s kind of hidden away and very quiet, so you don’t have to fret about hitting a truck at the crossroad while pedalling hard.
- From Flagey to Schaerbeek station: Rue Graystraat, Chaussée d’Etterbeeksesteenweg, Maelbeek, Avenue Paul Deschanellaan, Avenue Voltairelaan, Cage aux Ours, and then the station. A rather straightforward half hour cycle, passing through so many different areas and ending up at the gates of the city.