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.

Thibault Fournal

Thibault Fournal, 1984

Graphic designer

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

I studied design at ESAD Amiens and moved to Brussels after graduating around eight years ago, to be with a girl. I’m an independent graphic designer, working for private clients and some communication agencies. I was also a full-time bike messenger for a year, here in Brussels’s jungle. I did that two years ago to take a break from my computer, and I still do it from time to time to keep in touch with a particular reality. Today I’m lucky to work on a lot of bike-related projects, as I’m closely associated with Kring, a contemporary bike concept store and the first café-vélo in Brussels. Together we founded BrusselsCityCrit this year, the capital city’s first fixed gear criterium and we’ve been working on the launch of a new Belgian steel bike brand for a year now. We’re currently in the production phase of the first prototypes, which I designed myself. Besides this, we’re working on events for the Grand Départ of Tour de France 2019 in Brussels. Kring is definitely the most creative and dynamic biking structure there is in Brussels. I’m also working on a line of cycling bags, which I intend to put to the test during the next Transcontinental Race.

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

Brussels is a chaotic and quickly evolving city. Compared to other European capital cities, it gives you the feeling that anything is still possible. It made me discover my adventurous side. Also, a lot of people seem to be willing to come up with wonderful projects over beers, yet the morning after all that remains is a headache. To make it short, this is how Brussels shaped my working-philosophy: under promise, over deliver.

List three things you like the most about Brussels.

  • People are accessible: even if you have a bunch of small communities, you only need to be genuine in order to penetrate them meaningfully.
  • It’s easy to get out of the city by bike: if you know your way around then you can easily reach the countryside or forest in less than 15 minutes. Then again, you can never really know Brussels.
  • Enjoying the advantages of a big capital city, in a village setting.

I have a cargo bike, which is obviously the future for every big city in the world.

What converted you to bicycle use?

Walking in Brussels is usually a waste of time. Sure, I love to mountain hike, but I don’t see the point in Brussels, nor in trapping myself in a metallic box to have to endure jammed, absurd and uncivilised traffic. I would never commute by car in Brussels, it is rather masochistic. I have a cargo bike, which is obviously the future for every big city in the world, but it’s more than that: I have a passion for bikes. I’ve always cycled all my life. Nothing can compete with the adrenaline of surfing through traffic on my brakeless fixed gear bike or slaloming between Alpine trees on my mountain bike. I’ve always loved it, and despite the occasional fall, I will always ride. And that’s why I take so much pleasure in co-leading Kring’s social rides: good thrills and sweating all together.

List three favourite bike routes in Brussels.

  • The leg shaker: I’ve always lived on the border of the centre of Brussels and Molenbeek, so when I need a quick urban shot I go from the canal to Cinquentenaire / Jubelpark and back on my fixed gear bike. It’s an uphill sprint through Dansaert, L’Écuyer / Schildknaap, Colonie and Rue de la Loi / Wetsstraat. The return is a downhill, brakeless hill thrill.
  • Cobbles for breakfast: my favourite bike messenger route to reach Ixelles / Elsense from downtown is to go uphill through the tightest streets of Sablon / Zavel, with the treacherous steps of Rollebeek, cobbles of Grand Sablon / Grote Zavel and Minimes, and a sweaty finish with a view at Poelaert. Challenging yet rewarding in terms of sensations and beauty.
  • The great escape: one of the fastest routes to get out of Brussels from the centre is to head towards Dilbeek, through Anderlecht. Once you pass the Ring, you’ll find yourself in the nicest Flemish countryside.
thibaultfournal.com
brusselscitycrit.com