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.

Zeno Aerts

Zeno Aerts, 1990

Head of furniture design at BULO

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

I grew up in Ghent and moved to Copenhagen when I was 20 to study woodworking and furniture design within the art circuit. When I turned 25, I decided to return to Belgium, opting for the capital city. Today I live in Schaerbeek and commute almost every day to the BULO headquarters in Mechelen, by train and my foldable bike.

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

I feel like Brussels was where I needed to be after a period of intense self-development. On a Belgian scale, it’s the city I share the most with: it’s chaotic, openminded and carries a creative potential under the surface, ready to be unlocked. I commute to and work in Mechelen, so I feel like Brussels is a nice (and necessary) counterweight for the very Flemish environment I work in – I mean this as a fact, not a judgment. I think living in Brussels broadens my perspective and triggers my creativity.

Everybody has to do something for our environment, and I see cycling as a significant part of my contribution.

What do you like the most about Brussels?

  • Its multiculturalism: there are so many different (language) communities here, which makes it very easy to feel like you live in a village, but also gives you the opportunity to disappear and find new adventures if you’re up for it. You can really travel within your own city.
  • The city’s location and various connections allow me to travel easily, work-related or not.
  • Prices: I think we enjoy a nice quality-to-price ratio, especially compared with our neighbouring capital cities.

Now to balance it out, here are some of my negative points: the pollution and lack of biking infrastructures and green areas downtown are huge downsides, especially after having lived in a city like Copenhagen.

List three deciding factors that converted you to bicycle use.

  • Pollution: I don’t want to be a part of its cause. Everybody has to do something for our environment, and I see cycling as a significant part of my contribution.
  • I live close to the train station so commuting to Mechelen is relatively easy.
  • I have no patience whatsoever, so enduring traffic jams and finding a parking spot in central Schaerbeek on a daily basis would probably give me a heart attack in less than a month. 
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